New York has a unique set of gambling laws. Most forms of legal in some way. However, there are often restrictions on locations of casinos and other gaming establishments.
Casino gambling is mostly restricted to upstate New York. However, there is a slot casino in New York City and one near Albany. Sports betting is legal, but only at upstate casinos and not on mobile devices. There is also a state lottery, charitable gaming and horse racing.
- Live table games (upstate casinos)
- Slots-only (all New York casinos)
- State lottery (retailers and mobile app)
- Horseracing (live and off-track, including mobile)
- Live poker (upstate casinos)
- Bell jars, bingo and raffles (registered charities)
- Fantasy sports (online)
Online Gambling in New York
There are three forms of legalized online gambling in New York. One is daily fantasy sports. However, a court challenge has led to rulings that state that the law regulating it is unconstitutional. The court fight continues there, and in the meantime, the games remain legal and available.
Bets on horse races may be made on mobile apps. Lottery players may buy tickets to certain games on the app provided by the state.
Online Gambling Laws in New York
There are no laws in New York that specifically address online gambling. However, there are some that make it illegal to accept bets without a license in the state. S8153 legalized online fantasy sports contests. That law has lost in the courts and appears its future is bleak without a constitutional amendment. New York’s off-track betting laws were interpreted to permit mobile betting.
The state lottery sells tickets online. Online lottery sales are restricted to three lotto-style games. These may be ordered through subscriptions. Credit cards and electronic checks are accepted as payment.
Land-based Casinos in New York
There are several types of casinos in New York. There are slot-only parlors at racetracks. Slot machines, video poker and electronic table games are legal at the racinos in New York.
Commercial casinos in upstate New York may spread slots, live poker, as well as live and electronic table games. This is also true of tribal casinos.
Full-service casinos are typically resorts. These establishments spread all popular table games, including blackjack, roulette, craps and proprietary ones. There is also video poker, video keno, slots and live poker rooms. Reservations are permitted to host casinos with these same games.
New York Tribal Casinos
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New York Resort Casinos
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New York Racinos
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Casino Laws in New York
Casinos are covered by a variety of laws in New York. Tribal casinos opened in the early 1990’s through gaming compacts with the state. This was permitted due to the passing of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and charitable gaming laws that allowed casino nights.
A racino concept was approved by the New York Legislature in 2001 after years of debate. Upstate New York racetracks were able to quickly get casino operations running. However, it took until 2011 for New York City to get a qualified winning bidder. Resorts World paid $380 million for the exclusive rights to a racino in New York City.
In 2013, New York voters amended the state constitution with Proposal 1. This allowed four commercial casinos outside New York City with the goal of stimulating the economy in the upstate area. After seven years, which starts in 2020, three New York City casinos may be added to the mix, according to the law.
Tribal and commercial casinos may spread slot machines, video poker, live poker and live table games. Racinos, including Resorts World in New York City, may only spread slots. This includes video poker and electronic table games.
The minimum age for casinos in New York is 18. However if the casino serves alcohol, the minimum age is 21. New York casinos pay a tax rate ranging from 37 to 45 percent. This is in addition to licensing fees.
Sports Betting in New York
Sports betting is permitted at the state’s commercial casinos, as well as some tribal casinos. Professional land college sports are permitted. Bets on New York college teams are prohibited. Bets must be made at a physical sportsbook. Mobile betting is not permitted in New York. However, there are attempts in the state legislature to change that in 2020.
Sports Betting Laws in New York
Sports betting was approved as part of Proposal 1 in 2013, which legalized commercial casinos in the state. It left the door open to permit sports betting if there was ever a change in federal law.
The Supreme Court overturning the Professional an Amateur Sports Protection Act paved the way for New York sports betting. This also allowed tribal casinos to create sportsbooks. Bets must be made in-person at these casinos.
A bill that would expand sports betting to mobile devices was introduced to the state legislature in 2020. Sports bettors must be at least 18 years of age at casinos that do not serve alcohol and 21 at ones that do. The tax rate on sports betting is 8.5 percent.
Poker in New York
Live poker is legal at the state’s commercial and tribal casinos. There are 10 poker rooms in New York. All are upstate. Legal games include the typical mix of cash games and tournaments, including Texas Hold’em, Omaha and Seven Card Stud.
Poker Laws in New York
Poker is only legal at commercial and tribal casinos in upstate New York. The industry was created at tribal casinos in the 1990’s and expanded to commercial casinos with the passage of Proposal 1 in 2013. Live poker is not permitted at the racinos where only slots are available. Poker players must be at least 18 years of age at tribal casinos that do not serve alcohol and 21 at casino with an alcohol license.
New York Poker Room List
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Home Poker Games
New York does not have a social gaming exception to its gambling laws. This makes home poker games illegal, even if no rake is taken by the house. New York Consolidated laws 5-419 and 5-421 permits those that lost more than $25 at an illegal game to recover the losses through court action.
Fantasy Sports in New York
Fantasy sports is on an unknown road these days in New York. The state legalized the contests as games of skill in 2016. A state court disagreed in 2018, ruling that the contests were gambling and required a constitutional amendment to become legal. The case was appealed and lost again. It is likely on its way to the state supreme court. In the meantime, the games remain available through major operators like FanDuel, DraftKings, FantasyDraft and Yahoo.
Fantasy Sports Laws in New York
The New York Legislature passed a bill that carved out an exemption to fantasy sports from the state gambling law. This was believed to fix the issue and legalize the games. However, gambling opponents thought otherwise and challenged the law in state court. Critics have been correct up to this point. New York’s fantasy sports law has scored two losses and is on its way to the state supreme court. If New York’s fantasy sports law is overturned there, it will become illegal in the state.
The current tax rate is 15 percent on fantasy sports revenues. It is earmarked for public education. Fantasy sports players must be at least 18 years of age.
New York Lottery
The New York Lottery was the second one legalized in the United States. It has been selling lottery tickets since 1967. The first drawing was held on July 20 of that year. It took the form of a raffle.
There are nine lotto drawings and dozens of instant games offered by the New York Lottery. The NY Lottery allows customers to purchase and manage subscriptions for several games, while mobile app Jackpocket lets players purchase tickets to a larger variety of games.
Interstate Lotto Games
- Mega Millions
Intrastate Lotto Games
- New York Lotto
- Pick 10
- Quick Draw
- Take 5
- Win 4
New York Lottery Laws
The New York Lottery was created through a constitutional referendum on November 8, 1966. It was Amendment 7. It passed by a margin of 60 to 40 percent. Proceeds must go to public education in New York. The lottery may sell lottery tickets at retailers and over the internet. New York Lottery players must be at least 18 years of age.
New York Racing
Horseracing is legal in New York. This includes live betting, off-track race books and mobile betting through sites like TwinSpires and TVG. There are a dozen racetracks in the state. Some also have racinos attached where players will find slots, video poker and electronic table games.
New York City once operated as many as 150 off-track betting parlors in the five boroughs, known as OTBs. Profits were used for city government operations. These establishments were made famous in TV shows like Seinfeld and Law and Order. As interest in horseracing declined, and other forms of gambling cannibalized the racing handle, the operations became unprofitable. New York City shuttered its remaining OTBs on December 7, 2010.
New York Racetracks
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New York Racing Laws
Horseracing in New York was legalized through a constitutional amendment on November 7, 1939. Amendment 1 passed by a two-to-one margin. It allows for wagering on live horseracing. The Horseracing Act of 1978 permitted the expansion of pari-mutuel pools across state lines. This allowed the New York industry to expand and eventually led to the creation of mobile betting in New York. Horseracing bettors must be at least 18 years of age.
New York Skill-based Gaming Laws
Gambling is defined in New York as:
Staking or risking something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under person’s control, upon an agreement that he/she will receive something of value, given a certain event.
This would permit two opponents making a wager based on skill but not on the outcome of something involving luck. Games that involve skill over luck would be permitted under this definition. A game like craps, roulette or a sporting event would not.
eSports betting is legal when the wager is made among participants in the game. However, the gambling definition noted above would make it illegal to place wagers from the audience. It may also violate state bookmaking laws.
Traditional Games of Skill
Traditional skill gaming sites are legal in New York. This is due to players using skill to control game outcomes at sites like King and GSN’s Worldwinner. Both sites accept players from New York.
Skill-based Gaming Machines
Skill gaming machines like the ones manufactured by Gamblit Gaming are not yet available in New York casinos.
New York Charity Gaming Laws
New York charitable gaming was created through Amendment 7 in a constitutional referendum in 1975. It passed by only 6,000 votes out of three million cast. It allowed religious, charitable and some other nonprofit organizations to raise money through gaming. Permitted games include bell jars, raffles, bingo games and poker nights.
New York updated its charitable gaming laws in 2017. The changes permit online sale of raffle tickets by nonprofit organizations. The guidelines for this change are not yet in effect so charities may not sell raffle tickets online at this time.
Another change is that maximum prize pools were increased. Bell jar games can now award $1,000 in a single prize and $6,000 aggregate for a session. Raffles may now award prizes up to $30,000. Bingo prizes increased to $5,000 to a single game winner and $15,000 aggregate payouts.
Charitable gaming players must be at least 18 years of age. Minors are permitted to attend the events and claim prizes if the tickets were purchased by an adult.
New York Regulator Directory
- New York Lottery
- New York Gaming Commission (Casinos, racinos, charitable gaming, fantasy sports and horseracing)