New York Gambling Laws

New York boasts a robust gambling industry, which consists of six tribal casinos, four Vegas-style commercial casinos, ten racetracks, and a well-functioning state lottery. Three New York tribes negotiated their compacts with the state soon after the federal government passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988, and they built their casinos throughout the nineties. The construction of commercial venues was authorized in 2013 when residents approved the required constitutional amendment proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a referendum. Current regulations allow for the existence of seven commercial casinos, which means that three such establishments are yet to be built.

Due to the size of the local market and amount of wealth generated by the existing casinos, New York has been named among the most likely states to follow in the footsteps of Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey in legalizing online gambling since at least 2013. Unfortunately, these predictions proved to be way too optimistic as none of the proposed iGaming bills have reached the Governor’s desk so far. Even the recent DFS regulations were challenged by a local court, which clearly went against the lawmakers’ intentions. While the legalization of internet gambling in New York is just a matter of time, presenting even a semi-reliable schedule seems like an impossible task.

Gambling in New York is defined as an act of “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.” Betting over the internet isn’t explicitly prohibited, and mere participation in an unlawful game doesn’t constitute a crime. Thus, New York residents are free to play on offshore gambling sites without risking legal repercussions.

Gambling in New York is covered by NY Penal Code §225.00 et seq. as well as Statute 47A:101 et seq. and RW&B 47A§518. The minimum gambling age is 21 for Seneca casinos and 18 for all other gambling facilities.

New York Gambling Crimes

New York Constitution

Article I

Sec. 9.  1.

No law shall be passed abridging the rights of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government, or any  department thereof; nor shall any divorce be granted otherwise than by due judicial proceedings;  except  as hereinafter provided, no lottery or the sale of lottery tickets, pool-selling, book-making, or any other kind of  gambling,  except  lotteries  operated  by  the state and the sale of lottery tickets in connection therewith as may be authorized and  prescribed  by the  legislature, the net proceeds of which shall be applied exclusively to or in aid or support of education in this state  as  the  legislature may  prescribe,  and except pari-mutuel betting on horse races as may be prescribed by the legislature and from which the state  shall  derive  a reasonable  revenue  for  the  support of government, shall hereafter be authorized or allowed within this state; and the legislature shall  pass appropriate  laws  to  prevent offenses against any of the provisions of this section.

New York General Obligations Laws

Sec. 5-401.

Illegal wagers, bets and stakes. All wagers, bets or stakes, made to depend upon any race, or upon any gaming by lot or chance, or upon any lot, chance, casualty, or unknown or contingent event whatever, shall be unlawful.

Sec.  5-411. Contracts on account of money or property wagered, bet or staked are void.

All contracts for or on account of any money or property, or thing in action wagered, bet or staked, as provided in section 5-401, shall be void.

Sec. 5-413. Securities for money lost at gaming, void.

All things in action, judgments, mortgages, conveyances, and every other security whatsoever, given or executed, by any person, where the whole or any part of the consideration of the same shall be for any money or other valuable thing won by playing at any game whatsoever, or won by betting on the hands or sides of such as do play at any game, or where the same shall be made for the repaying any money knowingly lent or advanced for the purpose of such gaming or betting aforesaid, or lent or advanced at the time and place of such play, to any person so gaming or betting aforesaid, or to any person who during such play, shall play or bet, shall be utterly void, except where such securities, conveyances or mortgages shall affect any real estate, when the same shall be void as to the grantee therein, so far only as hereinafter declared.

When any securities, mortgages or other conveyances, executed for the whole or part of any consideration specified in the preceding paragraph shall affect any real estate, they shall inure for the sole benefit of such person as would be entitled to the said real estate, if the grantor or person incumbering the same, had died, immediately upon the execution of such instrument, and shall be deemed to be taken and held to and for the use of the person who would be so entitled. All grants, covenants and conveyances, for preventing such real estate from coming to, or devolving upon, the person hereby intended to enjoy the same as aforesaid, or in any way incumbering or charging the same, so as to prevent such person from enjoying the same fully and entirely, shall be deemed fraudulent and void.

Sec. 5-415. Certain transfers of property in pursuance of lottery, void.

Every grant, bargain, sale, conveyance, or transfer of any real estate, or of any goods, chattels, things in action, or any personal property, which shall hereafter be made in pursuance of any lottery, or for the purpose of aiding and assisting in such lottery, game or other device, to be determined by lot or chance is hereby declared void and of no effect.

Sec. 5-417. Contracts, agreements and securities on account of raffling, void.

All contracts, agreements and securities given, made or executed, for or on account of any raffle, or distribution of money, goods or things in action, for the payment of any money, or other valuable thing, in consideration of a chance in such raffle or distribution, or for the delivery of any money, goods or things in action, so raffled for, or agreed to be distributed as aforesaid, shall be utterly void.

Sec. 5-419. Property staked may be recovered.

Any person who shall pay, deliver or deposit any money, property or thing in action, upon the event of any wager or bet prohibited, may sue for and recover the same of the winner or person to whom the same shall be paid or delivered, and of the stakeholder or other person in whose hands shall be deposited any such wager, bet or stake, or any part thereof, whether the same shall have been paid over by such stakeholder or not, and whether any such wager be lost or not.

Sec. 5-421. Losers of certain sums may recover them.

Every person who shall, by playing at any game, or by betting on the sides or hands of such as do play, lose at any time or sitting, the sum or value of twenty-five dollars or upwards, and shall pay or deliver the same or any part thereof, may, within three calendar months after such payment or delivery, sue for and recover the money or value of the things so lost and paid or delivered, from the winner thereof.

Sec. 5-423. Money paid for lottery tickets may be recovered by action.

Any person who shall purchase any share, interest, ticket, certificate of any share or interest, or part of a ticket, or any paper or instrument purporting to be a ticket or share or interest in any ticket, or purporting to be a certificate of any share or interest in any ticket, or in any portion of any lottery, may sue for and recover double the sum of money, and double the value of goods or things in action, which he may have paid or delivered in consideration of such purchase, with double costs of suit.

Any person who shall have paid any money, or valuable thing, for a chance or interest in any lottery or distribution, prohibited by the penal law, may sue for and recover the same of the person to whom such payment or delivery was made.

New York Penal Law

Sec 225.00 Gambling offenses; definitions of terms.

The following definitions are applicable to this article:

1. “Contest of chance” means any contest, game, gaming scheme or gaming devise 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.

2. “Gambling.” A person engages in gambling when he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.

3. “Player” means a person who engages in any form of gambling solely as a contestant or bettor, without receiving or becoming entitled to receive any profit therefrom other than personal gambling winnings, and without otherwise rendering any material assistance to the establishment, conduct or operation of the particular gambling activity. A person who gambles at a social game of chance on equal terms with the other participants therein does not otherwise render material assistance to the establishment, conduct or operation thereof by performing, without fee or remuneration, acts directed toward the arrangement or facilitation of the game, such as inviting persons to play, permitting the use of premises therefor and supplying cards or other equipment used therein. A person who engages in “bookmaking“, as defined in this section is not a “player.

4. “Advance gambling activity.” A person “advances gambling activity” when, acting other than as a player, he engages in conduct which materially aids any form of gambling activity. Such conduct includes but is not limited to conduct directed toward the creation or establishment of the particular game, contest, scheme, device or activity involved, toward the acquisition or maintenance of premises, paraphernalia, equipment or apparatus therefor, toward the solicitation or inducement of persons to participate therein, toward the actual conduct of the playing phases thereof, toward the arrangement of any of its financial or recording phases, or toward any other phase of its operation. One advances gambling activity when, having substantial proprietary or other authoritative control over premises being used with his knowledge for purposes of gambling activity, he permits such to occur or continue or makes no effort to prevent its occurrence or continuation.

5. “Profit from gambling activity.” A person “profits from gambling activity” when, other than as a player, he accepts or receives money or other property pursuant to an agreement or understanding with any person whereby he participates or is to participate in the proceeds of gambling activity.

6. “Something of value” means any money or property, any token, object or article exchangeable for money or property, or any form of credit or promise directly or indirectly contemplating transfer of money or property or of any interest therein, or involving extension of a service, entertainment or a privilege of playing at a game or scheme without charge.

7. “Gambling device” means any device, machine, paraphernalia or equipment which is used or usable in the playing phases of any gambling activity, whether such activity consists of gambling between persons or gambling by a person involving the playing of a machine. Notwithstanding the foregoing, lottery tickets, policy slips and other items used in the playing phases of lottery and policy schemes are not gambling devices.

7-a. A “coin operated gambling device” means a gambling device which operates as a result of the insertion of something of value. A device designed, constructed or readily adaptable or convertible for such use is a coin operated gambling device notwithstanding the fact that it may require adjustment, manipulation or repair in order to operate as such. A machine which awards free or extended play is not a gambling device merely because such free or extended play may constitute something of value provided that the outcome depends upon the skill of the player and not in a material degree upon an element of chance.

8. “Slot machine” means a gambling device which, as a result of the insertion of a coin or other object, operates, either completely automatically or with the aid of some physical act by the player, in such manner that, depending upon elements of chance, it may eject something of value. A device so constructed, or readily adaptable or convertible to such use, is no less a slot machine because it is not in working order or because some mechanical act of manipulation or repair is required to accomplish its adaptation, conversion or workability. Nor is it any less a slot machine because, apart from its use or adaptability as such, it may also sell or deliver something of value on a basis other than chance. A machine which sells items of merchandise which are of equivalent value, is not a slot machine merely because such items differ from each other in composition, size, shape or color.

9. “Bookmaking” means advancing gambling activity by unlawfully accepting bets from members of the public as a business, rather than in a casual or personal fashion, upon the outcomes of future contingent events.

10. “Lottery” means an unlawful gambling scheme in which (a) the players pay or agree to pay something of value for chances, represented and differentiated by numbers or by combinations of numbers or by some other media, one or more of which chances are to be designated the winning ones; and (b) the winning chances are to be determined by a drawing or by some other method based upon the element of chance; and (c) the holders of the winning chances are to receive something of value provided, however, that in no event shall the provisions of this subdivision be construed to include a raffle as such term is defined in subdivision three-b of section one hundred eighty-six of the general municipal law.

11. “Policy” or “the numbers game” means a form of lottery in which the winning chances or plays are not determined upon the basis of a drawing or other act on the part of persons conducting or connected with the scheme, but upon the basis of the outcome or outcomes of a future contingent event or events otherwise unrelated to the particular scheme.

12. “Unlawful” means not specifically authorized by law.

13. “Authorized gaming establishment” means any structure, structure and adjacent or attached structure, or grounds adjacent to a structure in which casino gaming, conducted pursuant to article thirteen of the racing, pari-mutuel wagering and breeding law, or Class III gaming, as authorized pursuant to a compact reached between the state of New York and a federally recognized Indian nation or tribe under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, is conducted and shall include all public and non-public areas of any such building, except for such areas of a building where either Class I or II gaming are conducted or any building or grounds known as a video gaming entertainment facility, including facilities where food and drink are served, as well as those areas not normally open to the public, such as where records related to video lottery gaming operations are kept, except shall not include the racetracks or such areas where such video lottery gaming operations or facilities do not take place or exist, such as racetrack areas or fairgrounds which are wholly unrelated to video lottery gaming operations, pursuant to section sixteen hundred seventeen-a and paragraph five of subdivision a of section sixteen hundred twelve of the tax law, as amended and implemented.

14. “Authorized gaming operator” means an enterprise or business entity authorized by state or federal law to operate casino or video lottery gaming.

15. “Casino gaming” means games authorized to be played pursuant to a license granted under article thirteen of the racing, pari-mutuel wagering and breeding law or by federally recognized Indian nations or tribes pursuant to a gaming compact reached in accordance with the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, Pub. L. 100-497, 102 Stat. 2467, codified at 25 U.S.C. §§ 2701-21 and 18 U.S.C. §§ 1166-68.

16. “Cash equivalent” means a treasury check, a travelers check, wire transfer of funds, transfer check, money order, certified check, cashiers check, payroll check, a check drawn on the account of the authorized gaming operator payable to the patron or to the authorized gaming establishment, a promotional coupon, promotional chip, promotional cheque, promotional token, or a voucher recording cash drawn against a credit card or charge card.

17. “Cheques” or “chips” or “tokens” means nonmetal, metal or partly metal representatives of value, redeemable for cash or cash equivalent, and issued and sold by an authorized casino operator for use at an authorized gaming establishment. The value of such cheques or chips or tokens shall be considered equivalent in value to the cash or cash equivalent exchanged for such cheques or chips or tokens upon purchase or redemption.

18. “Class I gaming” and “Class II gaming” means those forms of gaming that are not Class III gaming, as defined in subsection eight of section four of the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, 25 U.S.C. § 2703.

19. “Class III gaming” means those forms of gaming that are not Class I or Class II gaming, as defined in subsections six and seven of section four of the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, 25 U.S.C. § 2703 and those games enumerated in the Appendix of a gaming compact.

20. “Compact” or “gaming compact” means the agreement between a federally recognized Indian tribe and the state of New York regarding Class III gaming activities entered into pursuant to the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, Pub. L. 100-497, 102 Stat. 2467, codified at 25 U.S.C. §§ 2701-21 and 18 U.S.C. §§ 1166-68 (1988 & Supp. II).

21. “Gaming equipment or device” means any machine or device which is specially designed or manufactured for use in the operation of any Class III or video lottery game.

22. “Gaming regulatory authority” means, with respect to any authorized gaming establishment on Indian lands, territory or reservation, the Indian nation or tribal gaming commission, its authorized officers, agents and representatives acting in their official capacities or such other agency of a nation or tribe as the nation or tribe may designate as the agency responsible for the regulation of Class III gaming, jointly with the state gaming agency, conducted pursuant to a gaming compact between the nation or tribe and the state of New York, or with respect to any casino gaming authorized pursuant to article thirteen of the racing, pari-mutuel wagering and breeding law or video lottery gaming conducted pursuant to section sixteen hundred seventeen-a and paragraph five of subdivision a of section sixteen hundred twelve of the tax law, as amended and implemented.

23. “Premises” includes any structure, parking lot, building, vehicle, watercraft, and any real property.

24. “Sell” means to sell, exchange, give or dispose of to another.

25. “State gaming agency” shall mean the New York state gaming commission, its authorized officials, agents, and representatives acting in their official capacities as the regulatory agency of the state which has responsibility for regulation with respect to video lottery gaming or casino gaming.

26. “Unfair gaming equipment” means loaded dice, marked cards, substituted cards or dice, or fixed roulette wheels or other gaming equipment which has been altered in a way that tends to deceive or tends to alter the elements of chance or normal random selection which determine the result of the game or outcome, or the amount or frequency of the payment in a game.

27. “Unlawful gaming property” means:

(a) any device, not prescribed for use in casinio [casino] gaming by its rules, which is capable of assisting a player:

(i) to calculate any probabilities material to the outcome of a contest of chance; or

(ii) to receive or transmit information material to the outcome of a contest of chance; or

(b) any object or article which, by virtue of its size, shape or any other quality, is capable of being used in casino gaming as an improper substitute for a genuine chip, cheque, token, betting coupon, debit instrument, voucher or other instrument or indicia of value; or

(c) any unfair gaming equipment.

28. “Video lottery gaming” has the meaning set forth in subdivision six of section sixteen hundred two of the tax law.

29. “Voucher” means an instrument of value generated by a video lottery terminal representing a monetary amount and/or play value owed to a customer at a specific video lottery terminal based on video lottery gaming winnings and/or amounts not wagered

Sec. 225.05 Promoting gambling in the second degree.

A person is guilty of promoting gambling in the second degree when he knowingly advances or profits from unlawful gambling activity.

Promoting gambling in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.

Sec. 225.10 Promoting gambling in the first degree.

A person is guilty of promoting gambling in the first degree when he knowingly advances or profits from unlawful gambling activity by:

1. Engaging in bookmaking to the extent that he receives or accepts in any one day more than five bets totaling more than five thousand dollars; or

2. Receiving, in connection with a lottery or policy scheme or enterprise,

(a) money or written records from a person other than a player whose chances or plays are represented by such money or records, or

(b) more than five hundred dollars in any one day of money played in such scheme or enterprise.

Promoting gambling in the first degree is a class E felony.

S 240.35 Loitering.

 A person is guilty of loitering when he:


2. Loiters or remains in a public place for the purpose of gambling with cards, dice or other gambling paraphernalia;

*** [rest of enumerated offenses are omitted]

Loitering is a violation

[[Substantial doubt about the constitutionality of Sec. 240.35(2) was expressed in People v. Melton, 578 N.Y.S.2d 377, 152 Misc.2d 649 (N.Y.Sup., 1991) on the basis that mere gambling as a player is not a crime in New York, and thus the attempt to criminalize the gathering for the purpose of gambling is improper.  To the same effect, see also People v. Davidson, 696 N.Y.S.2d 640 (N.Y.Sup., 1999)]]

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