Online Poker, the Law and Gambling in New York
2020 Update: Can I Play Online Poker in New York?
New York is a big, poker-loving state, but they’ve yet to regulate online poker. There has been a lot of efforts though. There have been almost yearly bills trying to legalize online poker dating back to 2014. They all failed for one reason or another and the current bill, S.18 .
This is a bipartisan bill sponsored by State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr (D) and co-sponsored by State Sen. Rich Funke (R). The bill would reclassify “interactive poker games” as games of skill and regulate online poker. The state would license, tax and guarantee minimum standards for sites. The bill was introduced early last year and is still making its rounds in the New York legislature.
Addabbo has also pushed for online sports betting. Sports betting is already allowed in physical casinos in upstate New York, but Addabbo is hoping mobile sports betting could help bring in up to $200 million for the state. This is especially important, Addabbo says, since the coronavirus pandemic has also devastated the state’s budget. It doesn’t look like there will be action on either of these fronts this year though. It seems unlikely that the state legislature will return before the session is over.
Poker and Gambling Laws in New York
New York has a lot of gambling options for its residents. It depends on where they live though. There aren’t a lot of legal options in New York City, but upstate New York has several tribal casinos that have incredibly popular poker rooms. Turning Stone Resorts Casino and Resorts World Catskill are pretty popular poker rooms among players. But aside from tribal casinos, gambling in the rest of the state is regulated by the New York State Constitution.
In Section 225.00(2), the state defines gambling 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 is a very broad definition. We see that gambling isn’t necessarily limited to wagering money like it is in many states. The inclusion of “something of value” is broad and includes any type of wagering. The other keyword here is “chance”, which is a common word in gambling definitions. New York goes a bit further to include “a future contingent not under a person’s control”. This broad definition is what makes poker, and several other games, fall under the New York gambling umbrella.
Can I Play Poker on PokerStars in New York?
Nope, but if you’re in New York City, you can hop over the bridge and play PokerStars in New Jersey. PokerStars is slowly coming back to the United States. Because of the legal trouble it got into after 2011, some states have been excluding it after regulating online poker. It’s a state-by-state decision though and both New Jersey and Pennsylvania agreed to license PokerStars.
Since there’s no online poker regulation in New York, there’s no PokerStars either. Another thing about PokerStars in the US, is that the player pools are small. So far, New Jersey players can only play with other New Jersey players and the same goes for Pennsylvania. Luckily, there are sites that accept players from all 50 states, including New York.
Sites like Bovada and Ignition Poker have large player pools, sweet bonuses and great tournaments. They’re a great PokerStars alternative for poker players in New York. If you want to read more about these sites –and others– check out or reviews and top recommendations below:
Legal Gambling in New York
As we mentioned before New York has a few legal gaming options for residents and some incredibly popular ones too. The state has some of the most popular card rooms in the country and pretty much everything else. The only form of gaming allowed in the United States that’s not currently available in New York is online gaming.
New York has popular horse tracks like Belmont Park, Aqueduct Racetrack and Yonkers Raceway. Pari-mutuel betting has been legal in New York since 1939. The New York Lottery has been going on since 1967 and is one of the biggest in the US. In 2019 they had a revenue of $10.3 billion with $3.5 billion going to the Lottery Aid to Education. The state also allows charitable gaming.
New York also has a plethora of casinos. It has racinos, tribal casinos and commercial casinos. In total, the state has about 25 different casinos. They have table games, slots, sports betting and more. Nearly half of those casinos are Native American casinos while the rest are spilt between racinos and commercial casinos. Commercial casinos popped up after 2013 when voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing casinos in the state.
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