Online Poker New York: Is it Legal in 2021?
Yes! It’s fully legal and perfectly safe to play online poker in New York. While there aren’t any state-run and licensed poker sites like there are in neighboring New Jersey, there are tons of sites that accept players from all over the United States, including New York. These sites are licensed, regulated, verified and certified and are based outside the United States but accept players from all across the world.
This means you can play from a highrise in Manhattan to a tent in the Catskills. There’s no place in New York where you can’t play online poker. If you’re looking for the best site to actually start, why don’t you check our list of recommended sites below. Our reviewers have taken a deep dive into every site to review everything from security to deposit bonuses. Check out the best pages for New Yorkers.
Best New York Online Poker Sites
There are tons of great sites to choose from for New York poker players. Here are our favorites:
Latest New York Poker News
There’s a lot of momentum for online poker and gaming legislation in New York for 2021.
The biggest movements have come from New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang. Yang, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, made a lot of noise with his bold proposals like Basic Universal Income and was a big proponent for online poker. While that proposal was for the federal level, Yang is narrowing his sights on Governors Island in New York. Just south of Manhattan, Yang is proposing to turn this island into the city’s first full-fledged casino. There is a slight hurdle in Yang’s plan though. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo put a moratorium on NYC casinos until 2023. After that though, who knows what could happen. If Yang becomes mayor of New York City and opens a casino, that could be a big step in the direction of expanding gaming and possibly open the door to online poker in the future.
Online gaming is another thing that’s been in talks around New York. Neighboring New Jersey passed online poker and sports betting legislation and has seen a huge boom in revenue and business. There are also thousands of New Yorkers that are commuting to New Jersey to bet on sports, play New Jersey poker sites, and even work in the industry. New York’s legislature isn’t too happy about all this money flowing across the border and some legislators are trying to bring it back to the state. The governor’s office estimates that about 20 percent of New Jersey’s sports wagers come from New York residents.
New York is facing more than a $15 billion deficit, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Like every other state, they’re looking for new ways to raise revenue. Sports betting is currently on the menu and Gov. Cuomo has expressed interest in approving things like recreational marijuana and online sports betting to help make up for the shortfall. Gov. Cuomo wants sports betting to work similar to the state lottery, meaning that the state will be taking the lion’s share of the revenue. The state would review applications and choose an operator to work in conjunction with casinos to set up mobile sports betting around the state. The governor’s office believes that New York could become the biggest sports betting market in the United States.
This could go well for online poker legislation, which has always had supporters in the state senate. The most ardent poker proponent in the New York legislature these past few years has been Sen. Joseph Addabbo. He introduced a poker bill in 2019, 2020 and is expected to do so again in 2021. Addabbo’s bill would remove poker from the list of banned games in the state’s constitution. After that, it would issue decade-long licenses to up to 11 different gaming operators to open poker sites in the state. The bill would also tax poker at a rate of 15 percent. But while Addabbo has had some allies in the New York political scene, there haven’t been enough. Each time the bill has been up for consideration, it’s failed to garner majority support.
We’ll see how it goes again this year. With the state desperate to make up lost revenue, this could be the year where we could see some real advancement in gambling legislation in New York.
New York Poker Laws and Legislation
Every state in the United States has its own constitution and set of laws that govern how it defines gambling, games of chance and what qualifies as a player. Here’s a summary of where you can find the state laws regarding gambling in the state and how it defines a few of those key terms.
|Gambling Laws||PEN.225, PEN.470
|Legal Definition of Gambling||New York state legally defines gambling as:
A person engages in gambling when he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.
|Legal Definition of Contest of Chance||This is another key term in gambling legislation. Most states use the term “chance” or “contest of chance” to differentiate gambling from other games.
In New York, a contest of chance is defined as:Any contest, game, gaming scheme or gaming device in which the outcome depends in a material degree upon an element of chance, notwithstanding that skill of the contestants may also be a factor therein.
|Legal Definition of Player||There’s no gambling or games of chance without players. States tend to define the term “player” slightly differently as well. In New York it’s defined as:
A person who engages in any form of gambling solely as a contestant or bettor, without receiving or becoming entitled to receive any profit therefrom other than personal gambling winnings, and without otherwise rendering any material assistance to the establishment, conduct or operation of the particular gambling activity.
|Other Forms of Gambling||Every state has legislated on different forms of gambling, making some legal in their jurisdiction. Here are the forms of gambling that have been legislated on and are currently offered in New York:
Horse and harness racing, off-track pari-mutuel wagering, bingo, lottery, charitable gambling, social gambling in private settings.
History of Poker and Gambling in New York
Gambling in New York is as old as America itself, literally. In 1776 the nascent Congress passed the country’s first gambling law allowing for a lottery to help fund the war against the British. New Yorkers enjoyed their lottery for nearly fifty years until the state put a congressional ban on lotteries in 1833. That ban stood in place for more than a century. Gambling legislation never took much priority in New York throughout the following decades until the 1960s.
In 1966 more than 60 percent of the population of New York voted to have a state lottery with proceeds going to education. Then, in 1967 New York issued its first lottery tickets in more than 100 years under the slogan “Your Chance of a Lifetime to Help Education”. Since then, the lottery has raised more than $34 billion for education. It’s now the largest lottery in the nation and sees revenue of nearly $10 billion every year.
After voters passed the lottery, it only took three years for gambling to expand in the state again. In 1970 the state legislature passed a law creating the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation to legalize off-track betting and start funneling money away from illegal bookies to the state. The first official bet took place in 1971 and that’s exploded to nearly 90 gaming parlors and 5 tele-theaters that bring in more than half a billion dollars worth of bets every year. It’s safe to say it was a good decision for the state.
Live poker has also become popular in New York. There are about 10 card rooms in upstate New York with tons of great cash games and tournament series throughout the year. There’s no doubt New York has been opening up to gambling recently, we’ll have to see what its next move will be.
Best Poker Players from New York
Some of the highest-earning tournament players in the world come from New York. Bryn Kenney, the highest-earning player in the world is from New York and poker legend Erik Seidel is not far behind. Here are the top 15 highest earning poker players from New York and their tournament earnings as of January 2021:
1st: Bryn Kenney – $56,403,505
2nd: Erik Seidel – $37,748,125
3rd: Isaac Haxton – $27,670,940
4th: Scott Seiver – $23,828,658
5th: William Alex Foxen – $17,260,306
6th: Nick Schulman – $13,117,530
7th: Vanessa Selbst – $11,906,247
8th: Dan Shak – $10,633,297
9th: Andrew Lichtenberger – $10,464,811
10th: Elio Fox – $9,812,147
11th: Olivier Busquet – $9,005,013
12th: Shaun Deeb – $7,714,011
13th: Cliff Josephy – $7,702,166
14th: Emanuel Failla – $5,730,106
15th: Galen Hall – $5,448,613
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Frequently Asked Questions
No. You can’t play on PokerStars from New York. Currently, PokerStars is only available in New Jersey and Pennsylvania if you live in the United States. Luckily there are a ton of great sites that accept players from New York. Just scroll up to find the best sites for New York poker players.
That depends on the site you’re using, but most of the ones we reviewed and mentioned above let you play poker with Bitcoin from New York. It’s an easy way to deposit and withdraw and transactions are usually processed much quicker than any other method, sometimes instantaneously.
Depositing and withdrawing work pretty much the same no matter what state you’re in. The deciding factors are the different payout and withdrawal methods that sites use. Some require a verification process to start withdrawing while others just let you start with just a debit. Deposit and withdrawal times are also dependent on each site and the banking methods they offer. Be sure to check each one to see which one is right for you.
There are sign-up bonuses for new players regardless of where you live. So if you’re in New York and looking for some poker bonuses, check out our bonus page to see what bonuses are currently being offered.