Legal gambling in New York runs the gamut from Las Vegas-style casinos to racinos, horse race betting, and even a robust lottery.
Legalized casino-style gambling began soon after the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed in 1988. As a result, three Native American tribes now operate six casinos in New York. These feature over 10,000 slot machines, as well as table games.
In 2013, legal provisions were made to add up to seven non-tribal casinos. To date, there are three brand new casinos available to New York residents.
Racing fans can wager on their favorite horses, although only at the state’s racetracks or racinos. No off-track-betting parlors operate in New York. As for racinos, they are a casino-racetrack hybrid offering video gaming terminals. These slot-like machines are available at 9 racinos throughout the state and feature over 17,000 VLTs.
State-sanctioned sportsbooks are non-existent in New York. You can place bets with a local bookmaker, or use the safer option of online, offshore sportsbooks for wagering.
While online gaming has yet to pass legal hurdles, inroads have been made and it should just be a matter of time. Meanwhile social gaming is available to get a quick slot or poker fix.
Recent New York legal gambling news
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Land-based slots environment
Casino gambling in the state of New York began as it does in many states – with the extension of licensure to federally-recognized Native American tribes.
The 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allowed for these tribes to negotiate deals or “compacts” with their respective states to allow for casino-style gambling. In the case of New York, three of the recognized eight — the Seneca Nation of Indians, the St. Regis Mohawks, and the Oneida Indian Nation — have successfully negotiated these compacts with the administration in Albany.
Among those three nations, six full Las Vegas-style (or Class III) casinos exist in the state of New York.
Those six casinos offer New York slot players over 10,000 machines. The highest concentration of these is at the Seneca Niagara Casino. Each of these casinos (except for the new Yellow Brick Road Casino, which is a deliberately smaller operation) also offers the same amenities one would expect at other casino resorts. There is fabulous dining, shopping, table games, golf, and spa services.
Then, in 2004, the state began to allow video gaming terminals (VLTs) at nine racetracks throughout the state. VLTs are similar in function and appearance to slot machines. Until 2013, there were over 17,000 of them in those nine racinos.
However, in 2013, due to frustration over the amount of money leaving the state each year to be gambled (somewhere around $1 billion dollars), voters approved full-scale gambling in New York.
As a result, legislation provided for as many as seven new casinos to be opened, although an agreement between the legislature and the governor planned to only open four in the immediate future.
The first of those four, Tioga Downs, opened on Dec. 2 in Nichols. It offers roughly 1,000 slots to patrons.
All of this adds up to increased competition for slot and table games players to visit New York casinos. Consequently, slot players should be on the lookout for some very appealing offers soon. Below are the current slot machine offerings in the state.
Land-based slots options
|Property||Location||Number of Slots|
|Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel||Niagara Falls||3,300|
|Turning Stone Casino and Resort||Verona||2,000|
|Seneca Allegany Casino and Hotel||Salamanca||1,800|
|Akwesasne Mohawk Casino||Hogansburg||1,600|
|Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino||Buffalo||850|
|Yellow Brick Road Casino||Chittenango||430|
Online gambling options
New York does not have legalized online gambling yet. However, there are promising events to report with regard to the future.
In August of 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that legalizes and regulates daily fantasy sports. This is a rather contentious area of gaming that blurs the line between fantasy sports and sports betting.
The previous June, the New York Senate passed a bill for the legalization of online poker by a widespread margin. This bill ultimately died within the New York Assembly. Most noteworthy are reports that the main opponent to the bill, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, has been optimistic about a similar bill passing in this session of the legislature.
In fact, Pretlow also seems to be loading up on a push for legalizing online sports betting in the state. All in all, especially with Cuomo at the helm, it would seem that New York’s administration is looking more and more favorably on the concept of online gambling (and gambling in general). Hence, it would not be surprising if a legalization bill for slots and other games came along in the next few years.
New Yorkers in the southeast part of the state could also, theoretically, take advantage of the state’s proximity to New Jersey and its online casino presence.
It might seem a bit strange to travel across state lines to a coffee shop expressly to gamble, but until New York puts a framework in place, any option is worth exploring.
Social casino site options
New Yorkers can play Zynga, Slotomania, Big Fish, and all of the biggest social casino sites via their cell phones or computers. All of these options are available 24/7.
MyVegas, MGM’s free comps app, is also available to New Yorkers. They have two options for that app inside or near the state.
The first option is the Resorts World Casino New York City. This is the only casino-type offering within the actual city limits of the Big Apple. Technically, it is a racino – formed out of the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens — but it is still the closest location for residents of Gotham to play various games of chance. MyVegas offers food, beverage, and retail credits through its loyalty program.
The other option is the two-hour drive to Borgata. MyVegas offers the full selection of discounted rooms, food, and retail credits for the reigning Atlantic City champion. Though driving down to the coast is likely unpalatable for most New Yorkers, it bears mention as an opportunity for getting comps cheaply.
Turning Stone Resort and Casino
The Oneida Nation of New York is one of three federally-recognized Native American tribes in the state to have been granted a compact to offer gaming.
The Nation’s Turning Stone Casino in Verona opened in July 1993. It was the first of its kind within the state. The resort itself sits on part of 13,000 acres of reservation land (along with a chain of convenience stores). The tribe credits the resort for turning the economic tides of the Oneida people around. Today, the Oneida Nation is one of New York’s largest employers.
The resort itself offers 500,000 square feet of casino space. There is over 2,000 slot machines, a 1,350-seat bingo hall, keno, poker, and 80 table games. Additionally, patrons can choose between 11 different restaurants inside the property, and can choose from five different hotel options on site – each with its own character that suits different patrons’ needs.
There are also six bars on site, as well as Lava Nightclub. The resort also offers a full fitness center, with spa, tennis, and racquetball facilities. Most interestingly, Turning Stone offers five golf courses to its customers.
Recently, Turning Stone announced a $20 million renovation project. They will replace the carpets, improve air filtration, update the hotel rooms, and introduce new restaurants. All in all, Turning Stone can provide a world-class experience to New Yorkers and visitors.
State legal environment
|Permitted/Offered?||Notes & Restrictions|
|Land-Based Gambling||Yes||Two new casinos opening in February 2017; more expected|
|Online Gambling||No||Online daily fantasy sports legal; online poker and sports betting bills being discussed|
|Lottery||Yes||State and multi-state drawings available|
|Charitable or House-Based Gambling||Yes||Legal forms include raffles, bingo, and bell jars – licensed and regulated by the state|
|Minimum Gambling Age||18 at most casinos, racetracks, and rooms; 21 for Seneca casinos|