Throughout the long and storied history of New York State, there has been very little available in the way of casinos and legal gambling. Today, the state does offer a few gambling options, though most of the casinos that are closest to New York City are mere “Racinos” which do not offer table games in the traditional sense.
Many residents of New York prefer traveling to nearby destinations like Atlantic City to gamble because of this. There are, however, a few stand-alone casino resorts within the state that are run by Native American tribes. These “Indian Casinos” offer full-fledged gaming, though in the case of New York, they are generally located upstate several hours from NYC.
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New York brick and mortar gambling industry is absolutely massive with numerous tribal casinos spread across the local landscape. Other than that, the Empire State offers pari-mutuel betting, which is available at the local race tracks, as well as charitable gambling events and a state-run lottery.
New York lawmakers haven’t introduced any iGaming-friendly legislation so far, but the state is expected to launch its own intrastate online gambling market in the near future.
Prior to 2013, the only kind of casinos legal in New York (NY) were tribal casinos and the so-called racinos– race tracks that are allowed to include video lottery terminals but no table games.
That changed when Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed a law legalizing the building of seven new full-scale Class III casinos (with the inclusion of live table games). Four of those new licenses have been awarded and the casinos have opened:
There are also six Indian casinos operating with a Class III license:
The other Indian casinos in the state offer Class II gaming, meaning they are limited to video lottery machines and electronic table games– the same kind of gaming offered at the state’s six racinos.
In upstate New York, far from the city, is where you will find a handful of Native American casinos which offer more gaming options than their Racino counterparts. Most all Native American casinos in New York will generally offer resorts and hotel rooms in addition to gaming.
These types of casinos offer many resort-style amenities including pools and spas in addition to top-notch restaurants and entertainment. This is different from Racinos which generally do not offer any resort or hotel options. New York’s Indian Casinos will also offer table games like blackjack with live dealers vs. the electronic variations you’ll find at Racinos.
Sports betting in New York is illegal but also remains in a state of confusion. According to the 2013 law, the new casinos built in the state can offer sports betting. In fact, most of them are wired and ready-to-go and already have sportsbook partners.
However, the NY legislative session ended in 2018 without any clarity on the issue. What do they do with the Indian casinos that are also desperate to open their own sportsbooks? And what about online sports betting?
All of those questions were supposed to be answered but weren’t. Now, New Yorkers are in a lurch. According to gaming analyst Eilers & Krejcik, even though many of those issues might get ironed out in the near term, it could be another three years before the laws include online betting.
While daily fantasy sports (DFS) were gaining popularity in 2015 and 2016, New York became the center of the battle between players, operators, state legislators, and existing gambling laws. When NY passed the Interactive Fantasy Sports Bill later in 2016, it was seen as a good thing throughout the industry.
In short, DFS is legal and regulated in the state. However, in the two years since the initial law was passed, a registration process for new companies has yet to be created by the gaming commission. Companies like FanDuel and DraftKings, which were in the market before the legal question was answered, are in on a temporary permit. New competitors remain unable to register.
To play DFS in New York, you must be at least 18 years old.
It is illegal to gamble on eSports in New York.
Horse racing has a long and storied history in the state, with the crown jewel being Belmont Park, the host of the Belmont Stakes– the final leg of the Triple Crown.
Other than at Belmont, there is live horse racing at these venues:
Five off-track betting (OTB) corporations run the simulcast pari-mutuel wagering in NY, and among those five corporations there are 170 OTB locations in the state.
In order to place a bet on a horse race in New York, you must be 18 years of age or older.
Greyhound racing is illegal.
All four of the commercial casinos in New York have legal poker rooms, and three of the six Class III Indian casinos have a poker room. There are no other legal for-profit rooms in the state. Social poker games, as long as no one is making a profit, are legal.
Online poker is illegal in New York.
New York’s lottery began in 1967, making it the third-oldest lottery in America behind Puerto Rico (1934) and New Hampshire (1964). Proceeds help fund public education.
Along with scratch-off games, the state offers the following draw games:
Prizes must be claimed within one year of the drawing. You must be 18 years of age or older to play. You must be 21 or older to purchase tickets where alcohol is served.
Along with the many Class II Indian casinos offering bingo, there is also a charitable carveout in the law to allow nonprofit organizations to conduct fundraising bingo games.
First, they must apply through the state’s gaming commission and then with the municipality where they want to host a game. The regulations for legal bingo include:
There are more than 200 bingo halls in New York, and you must be at least 18 years old to play.
New York State has had just a handful of casinos for most of its history, mainly in Native American areas located upstate. It wasn’t until 2013 when an amendment was passed to expand legal gambling in the state. The new amendment calls for just 4 new gaming licenses to be given out, mainly in upstate New York locations near the Catskill mountains and Albany.
The passing of the amendment was in part due to the effects the recession had on the state. The amendment, which received 57% voter approval, will allow for the slow expansion of legalized casinos. This will in turn generate much needed jobs for local residents. A large majority of all casino revenues are also distributed to help schools and educational programs within the state.
For many years, New York has been missing out on the massive amounts of revenue generated by gambling in nearby states such as New Jersey which is just a short drive from NYC. It seems that the idea of opening more casinos in the state is catching on fast and gaining some momentum. It will definitely be interesting to see what happens over the next several years, and there have already been many talks regarding turning some of the state’s Racinos into full fledged casinos that offer more variety in the way of table games.
As we briefly touched on above, many casinos within New York started out as horse racing tracks. This means a large majority of casinos here are considered “Racinos.” These types of casinos do not offer the traditional games that are available in other popular states such as New Jersey or Nevada. While some Racinos do offer “table games” they are electronic and completely automated.
In addition to the automated table games, many of the “slot machines” at New York Racinos are actually video lottery terminals, which utilize a system similar to the lottery but look like traditional slot machines. This is the most common type of casino that you’re likely to find in New York. Many of them also offer horse betting and live horse races, but do not allow sports betting. Even though the machines in Racinos use a different system than other casinos, they still have many of the most popular slot machines like Wheel of Fortune and the likes.
One of the newest, most popular and controversial casinos in New York is the Resorts World Casino which is conveniently located at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens (by JFK Airport). It opened its doors in 2011, and has quickly become a popular destination for home-state residents as well as many people traveling through the JFK International Airport. They have even built a train which runs direct from the airport to the casino, and it is currently the only casino and racetrack within the New York City Limits.
– In New York, you must be 18 years of age to gamble at casinos. This is currently the topic of debate, as several lawmakers are looking to raise the age to 21.
– In New York, you must be 21 to drink or buy alcohol at casinos.
– Though drinks (alcoholic or otherwise) at most casinos are usually free, tipping the waiter or waitress is a common courtesy.
– Smoking is permitted in some casinos, though it is not permitted in all. It is important to be wary of all marked non-smoking areas, and to know the rules before entering.