New York Real Money Online Gambling Guide
New York has a long history of gambling, with most of it being underground. While that still exists, New York has stepped into a new era over the past few years where you can go to a casino and not have to worry about gambling at a shady operation that is operating outside the law.
New York not only has tribal gaming, they have a number of non-tribal gambling establishments now, where you can gamble at racetracks and even at dedicated commercial casinos. New York even has land-based legal sports betting now, and while this is in the early stages, there is even talk about allowing people to do this online soon.
The New York real money casinos & gambling landscape has changed a lot lately and is set to change even more in the coming years. Let us take you on a tour of what the state now has, what you can and can’t do as far as New York gambling goes, and what you may be able to do soon.
History of Gambling in New York
New Yorkers have been gambling for a very long time, with records of underground casinos and operating in New York City going back as far as the 19th century. The working class had their neighborhood gambling parlors with their number runners where a few pennies is all it took to get in the game. The upper class had their clubs where gambling was more discreetly offered, with bribes regularly paid to police to keep them from the indignity of having these well to do folks from being arrested.
Horse racing tracks got off the ground in the early 20th century with the opening of Belmont Park in 1905, which went on to become one of the three jewels of the triple crown. Legal betting was confined to the track, and this was the only legal gambling that New Yorkers could do for a great many years, until the Indians stepped in.
It was no secret to anyone that gambling was going on all this time, with the middle class and religious figures objecting to it on moral grounds. They had the law on their side, but the law was at least somewhat reluctant to go after gambling operations and arrest gamblers. There was a gambling “reform” movement in New York in the late 19th to early 20th century, where stricter laws were passed but only really enforced in rural areas, as those running gambling in the city made sure they bribed the right politicians, who then in turn kept the police in line.
The stories of various organized crime leaders running gambling in New York are legendary, and they continued to dominate the state’s gambling scene for decades, with no real competition. New York has been pretty progressive compared to a lot of states when it comes to gambling, evidenced by the state adopting a lottery all the way back in 1966 to go along with the pari-mutuel betting they had at the time.
Off-track horse race betting hit the scene in 1970, and this still hasn’t come to most states, that’s how far New York was ahead of their time with this offering. Tribal casinos hit the New York gambling scene in 1993, and now people could play casino games and be on the right side of the law after so long having to play illegally.
2001 saw the emergence of racinos, where racetracks could now not only offer betting on horses but also offered a limited amount of casino style games. New York took things a big step forward in 2013 when they allowed the operation of commercial casinos, and this is what really sets them apart from most other states, casinos run by non-tribes without relying on excuses such as a boat sailing out to sea or on a river or casinos built on stilts close to the water on stilts which still allowed people to pretend that land-based casinos not run by Indians are not allowed.
The gambling scene in New York today is a vibrant one, and although it still hasn’t even come close to its potential, it is a lot further along than most states are.
New York Gambling Laws
New York’s general prohibition against gambling is a pretty broad one, where they define what people in New York are not allowed to do generally, and then subject this to whatever exceptions they may allow to this law.
New York’s anti-gambling provision reads as follows: Illegal wagers, bets, and stakes: All wagers, bets or stakes, made to depend on any race, or upon any gaming by lot or chance, or upon any lot, chance, causality, or unknown or contingent event whatever, shall be unlawful.”
As is the case in several other states, this clearly outlaws sports betting as well as games of chance such as casino games, this doesn’t clearly address games with an element of skill involved such as poker without at least a bit of thought required. At first glance, poker is indeed a game that is dependent upon contingency, the deal, and it should be fairly clear that poker is prohibited by this section, but we actually got to see this play out in an actual case, U.S. v. DiChristina.
DiChristina became convicted of running a poker operation out of a Staten Island warehouse, where the trial judge ruled that poker was prohibited by this section. It became overturned on appeal, with the appellate court deciding that poker was distinct because it is a game of skill. This became overturned upon further appeal, based upon a more correct understanding of the provision of dependency upon any contingency, and there is plenty of contingency in the outcome of poker hands.
New York therefore became known as one of only a few states where the law is settled on all forms of gambling, including poker, which was used as a springboard to provide the legal justification for charging poker operators in other countries for violating the UIGEA, by offering play to New Yorkers contrary to New York law. This was of no practical value as these operators are not subject to American law at all but instead are governed by the law in the countries they are located in, but this did at least create a lot of smoke to confuse players, which was clearly the intention.
The gambling law in New York can be summed up pretty simply. You aren’t allowed to gamble at all unless the State sanctions it. Fortunately though, the State does sanction quite a bit of it, on top of what the tribes offer, who are not subject to state law and this is how they were able to set up shop in New York State and elsewhere in the country.
Land Based Gambling in New York
The Indian gaming that took the country by storm in the late 1980s saw New York’s 4 Indian tribes to open up casinos of their own, who today boast 8 Class III (Vegas style) casinos and 8 Class II (no house banked games) scattered throughout the state.
While these casinos are well-placed around the state geographically, they are pretty scattered population wise, and this falls on how New York’s four tribes are located. New York is one of the larger states by land area, although most of its people live in the extreme southern part of the state, in the New York City area.
The 1990s saw New York State get by with just these 16 Indian casinos, although just having a legal casino to visit anywhere in the state was at least a step in the right direction. These tribal casinos did have some stiff competition though, the big casino hotels of Atlantic City, and if you had to drive anyway, many decided to take advantage of the bigger and better scene to the south that had so many options.
Atlantic City was built primarily to cater to the 19 million people that live in the New York Metropolitan area, and these upstate tribal casinos profited from their operations but were a far cry from a real casino city with so many casinos and other attractions. New Yorkers were hungry for something closer by than either Atlantic City or these Indian casinos, and they started by allowing racetracks to offer limited casino gambling in addition to their racing cards.
There are 8 racinos in New York State, and although, like the Indian casinos, they are scattered -pretty well throughout the state, this brought legal casino games to the New York City area for the first time. The largest of these racinos is the Resorts World New York City, at the famous Aqueduct Raceway in the borough of Queens. Although it is a racino by breed, it also happens to be the third largest casino in the United States by gambling floor square footage. To put this into scale, It is almost twice as big as anything they have in Las Vegas, although Vegas has a lot more than one.
In 2013, New York decided to take a big step and allow for “commercial” casinos, ones that are not operated by a tribe and also are not at a racetrack. There are 5 of these commercial casinos in operation in the state, and while this is a modest start, there is the potential for a lot more should New York decide to allow it.
New York has banned new gaming licenses until 2023, to allow for the smaller upstate operations gain a better footing on their markets, but the lockdown of 2020 has been painful to the State. Some big players are knocking on the door, including the owners of the Resorts World New York City, who want to add real casino tables to their gaming machines, and it remains to be seen if the State will give into economic pressures and push the timeline forward with this.
New York also has legal sports betting these days, although it is only offered at the state’s brick and mortar casinos and has not been made available online as of yet.
New York Online Casinos & Slots Gambling
The real money online gambling scene in New York can be summed up quite simply. State law prohibits all gambling unless otherwise authorized, and while there is plenty of land based gambling authorized in the state, there is no online gambling that has yet been authorized.
Online gambling is not a grey area in New York, like it is in many states, it is all painted black. The only possible defense to this would be that the gambling in question did not occur in the State of New York but elsewhere, and this can be an interesting defense in some states, even if the gambling is understood to occur outside the U.S., the bets themselves are placed at the source, in New York in this case, just like this would be the case if you called in bets over the telephone to an out of state location. The gambling itself may have been hosted, in other words located, in another country, but the wagers are being made in New York if that’s where you are playing from.
New York law focusing on “wagers” shuts the door to even this, and if you gamble online while located in New York, you are in violation of the law, pure and simple. Many miss the next question, which is to ask if such a thing even matters.
It turns out that this is essentially more of an intellectual discussion than a practical one, as is always the case when we look at various laws involving online gambling as far as whether they allow or do not allow it to be played legally in a given locale. In order for laws to have power, they need to be enforceable, and therein lies the challenge with online real money gambling prohibition.
It is not that such laws are of no effect, and they do dissuade many from partaking, those who may not have even thought of how they would be caught doing such a thing or those who may simply abide by the law for its own sake. These laws may not be enforceable in reality, but illusions can work plenty well, especially in conjunction with the even grander illusion that online casino gambling is against federal laws, a completely false view that has been shamelessly promoted by US authorities since online gambling was born.
It doesn’t even matter that New York law is used to try to prosecute offshore operators by federal officials, who don’t really care too much about these things unless they are foolish enough to visit the U.S. while under indictment, as some have, as if you are a player, what happens to players is what you care about.
There is just not an effective way to catch people gambling online. Even if you did find a judge to grant a warrant to obtain your internet records, which would require that they show enough of a suspicion to justify the warrant, just because you spent time at a gambling portal does not show that you even gambled.
The online gambling sites hold all the evidence, but don’t count on them sharing it with New York authorities or with anyone. Otherwise, who is to say whether you were playing real money or for fun? Many New Yorkers, who approach this more practically, enjoy playing whatever gambling games they like online all they want.
Plenty of New Yorkers, including those in government, look across the river to New Jersey and their full-on online gambling operation longingly, and there’s certainly something to be said about how New Jersey residents can use whatever payment method they like at these casinos, rather than having to rely on covert funding methods like cybercurrency.
New York has at least been eyeing the prospect of licensing and regulating online gaming, as New Jersey currently does, and they do have 20 million people to draw from to rake in cash that would make New Jersey look like small potatoes. The state’s economic troubles will only add to this pressure.
The Future of Gambling in New York
New York has been trending toward progress with the expansion of gambling for decades, although this is a lot like watching grass grow. It’s been growing faster over the last decade though, and there is every reason to believe that this trend will continue for a while.
If the State of New York completely opened up real money gambling in the state, while we probably wouldn’t see that big of a change to the upstate gambling scene, which is fairly well served already, but we would see a big expansion in the New York City area.
All we need to do is look at how the supply and the demand for gambling expansion is playing out currently. The State of New York is severely restricting the supply in the face of a lot of demand by those who are eager and ready to build a lot more land based gambling venues in the state.
The fact that so many New Yorkers still travel to Atlantic City to play casino games speaks to how New York is underserving its market, and with enough effort, New York could blow away and even gobble up the great majority of Atlantic City’s casino business. If Philadelphia did the same, they would be back to trying to get by on non-gambling tourism like they did before the casinos came.
The potential for expansion in New York is too strong to ignore forever, and as politicians continue to set aside their misgivings toward gambling so that they can hear the cry of money more clearly, they may heed the call of both land-based and online opportunities and make the State of New York a true gambling capital.
New York Online Slots & Casinos FAQs
What gambling is allowed in New York?
New York offers the opportunity for its residents to play the lottery as well as engage in gambling run by charities. New York also has 8 tribal Class III casinos and 8 Class II casinos. On top of this, 8 racinos are currently offering, which allow patrons to both bet on horses as well as gamble on real money slots and automated versions of table games. Several of these operations now offer land-based sports betting, and there is talk about looking to pass regulation that will allow sports bets to be made online.
Why do tribal casinos in New York have their own rules?
Prior to the coming of the many Indian casinos throughout the country, only one state and one city allowed for general land-based casino gaming, ones built on land. Indians had been defying state law by opening up high stakes bingo , which states sought to shut down through the court system. The issue finally made it to the Supreme Court of the United States, who ruled that federally recognized tribes were on federal land and were exempt from state gambling laws. Like many states, New York’s Indian tribes were now free to build casinos.
What is the difference between classes of casinos in New York?
Breaking down casinos into three classes is actually a matter of federal rules. Class I casinos aren’t really casinos as we think of them, but are instead small charitable operations such as bingo halls. Class II casinos permit slot machines and mechanical gaming machines that simulate table games. Class III casinos are also called Vegas-style casinos, offering both machine gaming and live tables such as real money blackjack, roulette, and poker, without restrictions.
How do racinos differ from casinos in New York?
Racinos in New York, which is a combination of racetrack and casino, provided a bridge of sorts to accommodate the less than full appetite for open casino gambling that New York State politicians have and still do to some degree. The State allowed limited casino gambling at various racetracks throughout the state, which did include slot machines, which also happen to be the most popular casino game, as well as mechanical simulations of table games. The hope among racinos is that the state will further lift restrictions and allow them to offer a full menu of casino games.
Can you legally bet on sporting events in New York?
For the last several years, there had been an interest brewing in several states to offer real money sports betting, but this was met by threats from the Federal government to punish states who decide to do this. The Feds claimed that this was against the law, but their reach only extends to interstate commerce, and Nevada has been offering legal sports betting for many decades already. New York was one of the states that were interested in this, and once the Feds called off their dogs, New York joined the revival and now offers live sports betting at several of its brick and mortar casinos.
Does New York plan on offering regulated online gambling like New Jersey?
Perhaps due to sports betting being a game of skill, as opposed to casino games which are games of chance, or perhaps due to the fact that sports betting is just so popular in America, states are for some reason more open to sports betting than casino games or even poker. New York State has been toying with the idea of online poker for several years now, but they are much closer to the idea of offering online sports betting. Online casino gambling is furthest away in New York, and it could be quite some time before New York opens up online gambling fully like New Jersey.
How much further does New York have to go to become like New Jersey and Nevada?
It’s not that New Jersey is completely open to gambling like Nevada is, allowing people to offer as much gambling as the market can bear in any form, available anywhere in the state. Gambling hasn’t completely become acceptable like other types of businesses are, and as relatively permissive as New York may be, they still have quite a way to go to fully embrace gambling. When all forms of online gambling become available and the big casino companies can build as big and as many casinos as they please, New York will have arrived.
Can New Yorkers gamble online now?
Anyone who has access to the internet can gamble online all they like, even in states like New York where online gambling in any form is clearly against the law. There are two essential components to any law, the communication that the governing body does not prefer people engage in prohibited activities, and the means to enforce the prohibitions. In theory, people could have all of their internet activities spied upon by capturing videos of it, but this is just not practical. Even if they could manage such a thing, they would also have to ban and police the ban of VPNs which allow people to browse in private. Without the means to enforce the law, there just isn’t anyway to stop people.
How do New York online gamblers get around the UIGEA?
The UIGEA applies to companies under US law that process financial transactions related to real money gambling otherwise deemed illegal. This illegality needs to be substantiated, but online gambling is indeed illegal in New York so payment processors could be convicted for processing gambling transactions of New Yorkers. You therefore won’t be able to use traditional methods of depositing and withdrawing at offshore real money gambling sites, but these sites have other means to transact such as Bitcoin and those willing to use these methods can easily make deposits and withdrawals.
What are the benefits of gambling being opened up more in New York?
When states look at the benefits of expanded gambling, they always look at the extra tax revenue these arrangements create for them, which includes not only expanding the market itself but also taxing otherwise under the radar gambling that occurs in the absence of a market being served above board. They tend to miss the positive effects of this upon their state economy, and especially miss the increase in satisfaction that more widespread gambling provides to the people generally. New York can do so much more to enjoy all of these benefits more than they presently do.