New York Legal Poker Sites

New York StateNew York is where the ‘Black Friday’ indictments which finally took the major international poker sites out of the US was organized. While this indicates that the State law enforcement authorities believed those sites to be illegal – it does not give the full picture of poker in New York State. There are plenty of opportunities for poker games, at tribal casinos and via the social poker laws. Online poker sites operating from overseas continue to offer internet poker games to residents here too.

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This page gives you an overview of all the different ways you can enjoy poker in New York State. First of all, live poker rooms are covered – these are at Tribal casinos in NY. After that you’ll find info on what is allowed and what is not in the social poker sphere – including home games, bar tournament leagues and charity poker events too. Next opportunities for enjoying online poker are covered, with offshore sites and the potential for future regulation the main subjects. Towards the bottom of this page you will find an analysis of the key wording relating to poker from the New York law books, followed by a high level summary and some final thoughts.

Live Poker Games In New York State

There are currently 7 poker rooms available in New York, these are located in Tribal casinos around the State and some of them are approaching mid-size. You’ll find tournament tours including the popular Heartland Poker tour stopping here, as well as regular tournament and cash game action all year around. Recently, State licensed casinos have been approved for the under-developed areas upstate from NY City. The first licenses are expected to be awarded later in 2014.

For poker fans who like to travel, there are several more opportunities within a few hours drive of New York. These include the casino resorts of Atlantic City to the south, and the huge Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut to the north.

Are Home Games Legal In NY State?

You can enjoy social home games in New York. There is a requirement that the game is played on ‘equal terms’ as well as the usual nobody making a profit from running the game stipulation. As usual, small stakes home games are very rarely busted, you’d need to be playing for big money and making a profit from running the game to catch the attention of the law enforcement agencies on this front.

Free bar poker leagues run in New York, as usual these are more social than anything else – with no entry fees and minimal prizes. Charity poker events also run here, you’ll need to get approval from the gaming control board before running one.

Online Poker Games In New York State

The 2011 crack-down citing the Federal UIGEA laws was organized by New York. The legal cases which came from this all involved banking and money-laundering type charges, so no precedent was set that operating online poker games or playing them was actually illegal.

Offshore poker sites based on some of the Caribbean islands continue to offer real money online poker games to New York State residents to this day. These sites are legal in their own countries and argue that they can accept business from the US under free trade agreements. While I am sure that many anti-gambling politicians and law enforcement agents do not agree – the fact is that thousands of Americans play at these sites every single day.

There are no current discussions on legalizing or regulating online poker games here. I do not see a strong enough anti-gambling movement to stop this State from joining a future wave of States who regulate online poker games though.

New York Online Poker – What Do The Statutes Say?

As a poker player, you might be please to know that the gambling laws in New York State are aimed squarely at the organizers and those making a profit by running gambling games – with players in them rarely mentioned at all.

The key element here is the ‘contest of chance’, this can include an element of skill – which rules of the ‘Skill game’ argument for poker. As usual the definition of illegal gambling is super-broad, allowing specific carve-outs to be made for approved formats on a case-by-case basis.

Here is the key contest of chance definition, this is from section 225 of the Statutes which covers gambling definitions:

…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…

New York Poker – Summing It Up

Progress is being made in New York, which is changing from a generally anti-gambling State to one where new casinos are now being licensed. There are already a good selection of poker rooms and several social outlets for poker – as well as the offshore poker sites.

While I do not see New York State as being in any hurry to legalize online poker, there is no evidence to rule them out of some future group of States regulating these games.