New York is a pro-gambling state that allows most forms of online gaming. That includes online horse betting, greyhound wagering and fantasy sports. Nearly every legal betting site based in the United States accepts customers from the state of New York.
Sports betting is technically legal at commercial casinos in New York right now, but casinos are still waiting for the Gaming Commission to issue the necessary regulations OR for a new law to pass that will expand legal sports betting to tribal casinos and online.
There have also been some efforts to legalize online casinos and poker sites in New York. Those efforts have failed to result in action, but there is a clear desire among lawmakers to expand the state’s legal online gaming options.
Best New York Betting Sites
Horse and Greyhound Betting:
Games of Skill:
Passage of the measure in New York would create a situation similar to Nevada, where online poker is allowed but not other forms of casino gaming. We have much to look forward to in New York, so let’s get to it. I’ll start with an overview of the latest poker proposal and then discuss what is already available to New Yorkers today.
Legal Online Betting in New York
Several forms of online betting are already legal in New York. Online skill games, fantasy sports, horse betting and greyhound betting are all legal within the state. Below is a list of websites based in the United States that already accept customers from New York.
Horse and Greyhound Racing:
Each of the above forms of gaming is already legal at the national level. Fantasy sports and skill games are classified as “contests of skill” by federal law and are therefore legal at the national level. However, individual states have the right to opt out of any form of wagering (including fantasy sports). You may wager and win real money at these websites. Fantasy sports betting has seen tremendous growth in recent years and the sites mentioned above regularly host contests with multi-million dollar prize pools.
Horse and greyhound racing are also legal at the national level thanks to an exemption written into the UIGEA. Individual states are authorized to ban any of these forms of gaming, but most states have opted not to criminalize any of those activities.
NY Sports Betting
Sports betting is already legal in New York thanks to 2013 referendum permitting the state’s four upstate commercial casinos to offer sports betting should the federal prohibition be rescinded. The Supreme Court took care of that with its landmark ruling against PASPA in 2018, but those four casinos are still waiting on the state to promulgate regulations before they can begin accepting wagers.
So, that leaves us with the current situation in which NY sports betting is legal on paper but not in practice. If the Gaming Commission gets around to issuing regulations, people will be able to bet on sports at:
- Resorts World Catskills
- del Lago Resort & Casino
- Tioga Downs
- Rivers Casino & Resort
The Gaming Commission has been moving slowly on issuing the regulations necessary to get sports betting underway in New York, likely due to lawmakers expressing a desire to pass a revamped law to further expand legal sports betting.
The current NY sports betting law is limited in scope because it leaves tribal casinos out of the picture and does not authorize online wagering. Lawmakers have in the past attempted to pass sports betting legislation to authorize mobile/online betting and to allow other casinos to get in on the action. Those efforts have failed to gain traction, but it looks increasingly likely an expanding sports betting law will be approved sooner rather than later.
State Senator John Bonacic introduced a bill in March of 2018 seeking to legalize sports betting in New York. Senate Bill 7900 sought to legalize sports betting at state casinos on the condition that federal law changes to allow states such as New York to regulate sports wagers
This legislation would have permitted online and mobile wagering, authorized the Gaming Commission to establish regulations and called for a tax rate of 8.5%. The leagues had requested that New York include a 1% integrity fee in the bill, but local casinos came out strongly against the integrity fee because it is applied to total betting handle and is practically as expensive as taxing net income 20% or more. Lawmakers struck a compromise and included a 0.25% integrity fee.
In a press release announcing the introduction of the bill, Bonacic said this:
“New York State has historically been behind the curve in dealing with developments in the gaming world, and it has been to our detriment. If allowed, sports betting will be a revenue enhancer for education in New York. We have the chance to ensure our sports betting statute is fully developed and addresses the needs of the state and all stakeholders so we can hit the ground running if and when we can authorize and regulate sports betting.”
That bill did not make it through the process before the end of the 2018 legislative session, but lawmakers are confident they can get something done in 2019. Smart money is on New York passing an expanded sports betting law in short order.
In fact, smart money is already moving in on the industry. International online sports betting company Bet365 reached an agreement with Resorts World Catskills in November 2018 to offer online and in-person wagering pending regulatory approval.
DraftKings reached a similar deal with del Lago Resort & Casino in July 2018 and FanDuel has a deal of its own in place with Tioga Downs. In all, three of New York’s four commercial casinos have deals in place with major gaming providers to pounce on the opportunity as soon as sports betting is given the green light in New York.
New York was once one of the most troublesome states for the emerging daily fantasy sports industry. After several years of operating in the state, the major DFS sites were forcibly ejected thanks to an unfavorable opinion from the Attorney General and subsequent cease-and-desist orders.
In November 2015, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman dealt a virtual deathblow to the daily fantasy sports industry in New York. He issued a pair of cease-and-desist letters to FanDuel and DraftKings that ordered both sites to stop operating within the state immediately.
The crux of the issue came down to the state’s top lawmaker making a fairly compelling argument that the daily fantasy sports model meets the state’s definition of illegal gambling. Major providers FanDuel and DraftKings fought the order, and experienced a number of ups and downs over the next year.
At one point, fantasy sites received a brief respite from Schneiderman’s cease and desist. They later pulled out again as a part of an agreement to help push two pro-legalization bills that were progressing through the state legislature.
The companion bills seeking to legalize and regulate fantasy sports in New York eventually made their way through the legislature to land on the desk of Governor Andrew Cuomo. He signed the bills on August 3rd of 2016 to finally legalize real money daily fantasy sports.
Today, daily fantasy sites are required to pay an annual licensing fee of $50,000 and a 15% tax on revenue. The legislation also requires licensed fantasy sites to identify “highly experienced players” to other users, keep player funds segregated from operational funds, provide voluntary self-exclusion programs for customers and restrict access to anyone under the age of 18.
Real Money Poker in New York
Legal online poker is still an unrealized dream in New York, but it isn’t for a lack of trying. Multiple lawmakers have drafted and introduced legislation only to see it shot down for varying reasons. However, legislation has been introduced each year over the past few years and it is likely that one of these bills will eventually make it through the legislative process.
Current efforts to legalize New York poker sites consist of legislation introduced by Assemblyman Gary Pretlow. His legislation proposes legalizing online poker and issuing up to eleven licenses to operators that would be authorized to hold real money games over the internet for New Yorkers.
Each poker license would cost a whopping $10 million, but the license would be good for ten years and operators would be able to use the licensing fee to offset taxes for up to five years. Pretlow was originally not-optimistic about his bill making it into the 2017/2018 budget, but it was soon announced that his bill had indeed been included in the budget. If the budget route fails to deliver, the legislation can still be introduced as a standalone bill.
Past Effort to Legalize Online Poker in New York
Senator Bonacic introduced bill S6913 (full text) in March of 2014 to specifically address online poker. The stated purpose of the bill was to “authorize the New York State Gaming Commission to license certain entities to offer for play to the public certain variants of internet poker which require a significant degree of skill, specifically ‘Omaha Hold’em’ and ‘Texas Hold’em.’”
In short, the bill sought to legalize online poker and issue licenses to up to 10 operators inside the state of New York. Each license would cost $10,000,000 up front and be in effect for 10 years. Operators would be subject to a 15% tax rate.
In one piece of the legislation titled “justification,” Senator Bonacic argued that residents already compete in offshore, unregulated games hosed by foreign gaming sites. The bill wanted to address the dangers of offshore poker by regulating its own industry here at home. The licensing and regulatory measures would have ensured operators were held to a high standard while at the same time collect tax revenue for an activity that was already taking place anyways via offshore poker sites.
This bill did include a “bad actor” clause which would have barred any operators who continued to accept wagers from Americans after the passage and enactment of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006. This would have effectively banned PokerStars from New York forever.
The legislation also would have allowed New York to enter player-sharing agreements with other states that legalize online poker. Even today, this is a key piece of any poker legislation because it would allow players in New York to sit at tables with players from other states. The end result of any player sharing agreements would be greater liquidity for poker sites and more games for players.
S6913 never made it past the Racing, Gaming and Wagering committee. Bonacic introduced similar legislation in 2015 and 2016 also to no avail.
Odds of New York Poker Sites Becoming a Reality
The odds of something being passed over the next few years remain favorable. New Yorkers seem fairly receptive to gaming, with the people supporting last year’s measure to build up to 7 new brick-and-mortar casinos by a 57% yes vote.
Real life gambling and online poker are two completely different things of course, but people in most cases are generally even more receptive of poker than of games of chance. If the people are willing to accept casino gambling, they are probably willing to accept poker.
Online Casinos in New York
Online gambling is not authorized in New York and there is no legislation pending to change that. State laws do not criminalize the act of playing at offshore casinos so many players choose to go that route. The problem with playing offshore is there is no effective oversight and most of the legitimate big-name brands such as 888.com, Bet365 and Party have all left the market.
If something goes wrong at an offshore site, there’s not much you can do about it. Many people are willing to take the risk, but our opinion here at BettingUSA.com is that it’s best to wait until the law changes before we recommend online gambling in New York. There have been numerous, well-documented cases of unlicensed internet casinos closing without warning, refusing to honor cashouts and getting caught red-handed with their hands in the cookie jar.
The New York lottery has a subscription service (available here) that you may manage online if you live in state. The service does not sell scratch cards or individual tickets à la carte, but it does allow you to purchase subscriptions for its biggest games. You’re allowed to manage up to 10 subscriptions at a time and may choose your own numbers or let the computer provide random picks.
MyNYLottery.org is the only official website where you can purchase tickets for the New York lottery. If you run a Google search, you’ll see dozens of other websites that claim to sell individual tickets and subscriptions but not a single one of those websites is official or endorsed by the actual NY lottery.
It can be very difficult to tell the difference between unofficial and official lottery sites. For example, CongaLotto.com looks legitimate until you scroll down and see that it’s headquartered in Cyprus. I cannot speak to whether or not any individual site will actually pay if you win, but you should proceed with great caution.
It would be a shame to pick the winning numbers for a million dollar jackpot at some foreign website and be stiffed when you could have just as easily done it through the official state lottery website.