Gaming Laws in New York
Up until very recently, New York had two separate governing bodies when it came to regulation of gambling in the state. The New York State Racing and Wagering Board and the New York Lottery were previously separate entities, but in 2013 they merged. The New York State Gaming Commission was born out of this merger to oversee the state's lottery, horse racing, and casino gaming venues.
Changes to New York Gaming
Big changes will be coming to New York gaming in the next few years. In 2013, a law was passed to add an amendment to Section 9 of Article 1 of the New York Constitution that would allow the state to build up to seven full-scale casinos in upstate New York. This law was packaged as an opportunity to create jobs and boost the economy in struggling areas of New York.
Adding to the five tribal casinos in upstate New York, these four to seven new casinos will give New York residents many more betting options and could help keep residents from going down to Atlantic City, New Jersey for their gambling needs. More legislation could follow as questions about the legality of different types of gambling such as sports betting and online betting start to arise.
Sports Betting in New York
New York legislation does not specifically mention sports betting, online or offline, anywhere in its gaming laws. As a result, plenty of New Yorkers make wagers on sports every day, and do so without fear of the state cracking down on this activity with any legal ramifications.
Unfortunately for sports bettors in New York, sports wagering options are still limited. While the gaming laws in New York do not ban sports gambling specifically, the state does follow federal laws on the matter that include not allowing any legal institution in the state of New York to book sports wagers. This leaves bettors with two options that many bettors around the country are left with; online sports betting sites or local bookmakers.
There are no official state online sportsbooks, but there are many offshore options available to sports bettors in the state of New York. Offshore sportsbooks are widely considered to be a much safer option than local bookmakers. In addition to having the convenience of placing bets right from a personal computer or mobile device and a variety of options, online bettors can trust reputable and well-reviewed offshore books to always offer lines and pay out, which may not always be the case for local bookies.
Poker and Casino in New York
Casinos in New York are split into two types; tribal casinos and “racinos”.
A “racino” is a combined race track and casino. Many of the horse racing tracks in New York supplement their income with the addition of slot machines, card games, and other automated casino games. Race tracks that offer casinos often bring in more revenue, which can be used to add to the purses in the horse races to attract better horses and trainers in the area. New York is one of 10 states in which racinos are currently legal.
Tribal casinos are run like more standard casinos, offering a much wider variety of games and slot machines. These casinos also tend to feature poker rooms, which are much rarer to find in racinos.
In general, poker playing options are very limited for New York residents. There are no state-sanctioned online options available, leading most players to pursue offshore poker sites for their poker playing needs. Neighboring state New Jersey has had success with legalized online poker, and many in New York are hoping that the state will eventually follow suit to cash in on a potentially lucrative interstate player pool between the two states.
Other Gaming Options in New York
As mentioned above, horse racing is a big part of New York's gaming identity, and was even before the introduction of racinos. In 2010, NYC OTB (off-track betting) was shut down due to lack of profitability. As it stands, the only place for bettors to wager on horses now is at a race track or racino.
New York Lottery
New York became one of the first states to offer modern US lottery as it started the New York Lottery in 1967. National games such as Mega Millions and Powerball are available in New York as are local options including scratch cards, in-house draw games, and video lottery.