Legal Status of Online Poker in New York (NY)

Would you like to play online poker in New York? Do you want to play Hold’em on your laptop and win real money? You are currently out of luck when it comes to internet poker.

poker table

While the state’s laws on commercial casinos and New York online sports betting are being liberalized, in New York, online poker has taken a back seat. What is there to look forward to for online poker players in New York in 2022 and beyond?

Is Online Poker in New York Legal?

The state of New York has a long history of underground cardrooms, where some of the world’s best poker players have acquired their secrets. New York residents (as opposed to other states in the USA) have only a few legal options for online internet poker: They can play online by driving to New Jersey or Pennsylvania.

You can also play sweepstakes poker games at sites like Global Poker. These websites use a sweepstakes model in which you buy gold coins to play games. You can also obtain sweeps Coins for use in tournaments and cash games. If you collect enough sweeps coins, you can exchange them for prizes such as cash.

Fortunately, New York has several new commercial casinos that have opened in recent years. Every land-based New York casino has a full poker room with cash games and tournaments available around the clock. You can also play poker at many of New York’s tribal casinos. You can’t even play casino games at an online casino in New York as of early 2021.

Why is Online Poker Still Illegal in New York?

So why isn’t online poker legal in New York? It’s not for lack of trying. Indeed, since commercial casinos and cardrooms were approved in 2013, New York lawmakers have been attempting to pass an online gambling bill. So far, nothing has been introduced in the state legislature.

In New York, mobile and online sports betting are finally legal. Online poker in New York could follow, with gamblers flocking across the border into New Jersey to gamble. For the time being, hopes are riding on Bill S00018, which would legalize poker as a skill game. This would have far-reaching consequences and could pave the way for New York poker rooms to open their doors.

Sen. Joseph Addabbo’s bill on the gaming commission proposes:

  • A limit of 11 New York online poker licenses is available and the New York State Gaming Commission will regulate these sites.
  • Each license allows for an unlimited number of skins.
  • Only players aged 21 and up can apply for licenses at tribal casinos and video lottery facilities.
  • A ten-year license costs $10 million upfront.
  • Gross Gaming Revenue is taxed at 15%
  • After Legalization, 

How Long Does it Take to Setup?

New York may legalize online poker games in the coming years, but how long could operations take to launch?

To begin, businesses must apply for a New York State Gaming Commission license. They may also be required to have agreements in place with an existing land-based casino. The appropriate background checks, as well as software audits, will be required.

It took nearly a year for New Jersey, from when the government passed the gambling bill to launching the first legal online poker site. That timeline should be expected for the first online poker room to open in NY.

Can People Who Live in New York Play Live Poker?

Legal status of online poker

At the moment, New York online poker is a distant dream; even then, you can enjoy these dreams in other cardroom areas in the country.

In 2013, the law governing brick-and-mortar casinos was relaxed, allowing for the construction of up to seven commercial casinos. Some of New York’s new commercial casinos and a few tribal casinos offer live poker games. Here are the top five gambling places in the state:

Turning Stone Casino

Tables: 32

Offered: tournaments, Cash games, single-table tournaments, bad beat jackpot

Rivers Schenectady

Tables: 16

Offered: Tournaments, cash games

Del Lago Resort & Casino

Tables: 14

Offered: Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Seven Card Stud cash games and tournaments

Resorts World Catskills

Tables: 20

Offered: Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Seven Card Stud, cash games, tournaments, bad beat jackpots

Seneca Niagara Casino

Tables: 23

Offered: Texas Hold’em, Seven Card Stud, Omaha, tournaments, bad beat jackpots, cash games.

Can a New Jerseyite Play Online Poker in New York at NJ Casinos?

No, a New York resident or visitor cannot participate in an NJ online poker room from within the state of New York. Residents of New York have had to travel to New Jersey to play legal online poker for real money.

In February 2013, New Jersey legalized online poker. It is now legal for players in the Garden State to log on and play real money poker under the new law. Mobile poker sites are another option for playing games. However, all New Jersey online poker sites require players to be state residents to participate. NJ poker rooms use sophisticated location tracking tools to ensure that their players are logged in legally within state borders.

There are no age restrictions for opening an account, so any New York resident over 21 can open one. However, you will need to travel to New Jersey before playing.

What About Offshore Poker Sites?

Even in states where online gambling is prohibited, offshore online poker sites have always provided online games to US players. While signing up for and making deposits at offshore poker rooms is possible, the process is fraught with complications. Sites are not licensed in New York or even the United States, and you risk your money and personal information.

The RNG May Not be Accurate: To determine which cards are dealt with, all online poker sites use a Random Number Generator (RNG). A good RNG ensures a fair deck shuffle and is properly audited by approved testing labs. There’s no guarantee the RNG at offshore online poker sites is up to the task.

Protection against Bots and Cheats: Bots make decisions on your behalf using pre-programmed software. Bots are now prohibited at many licensed, legal online poker sites in the United States but not at offshore rooms. Furthermore, when it comes to multi-accounting, there are fewer checks and balances at offshore poker rooms.

Personal Data May Not be Secure: Legitimate poker sites use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption to protect your personal information. Offshore poker rooms have more relaxed licensing relationships, and offshore poker rooms may not adequately guard your name, address, or credit card information.

You May Not Receive Your Payout: It’s great to win at online poker, but it’s even better to get your money quickly. Untrustworthy offshore poker rooms may keep winnings for longer than necessary or deny payouts for bogus reasons, such as abusing bonuses.

Bonuses may not be real or legitimate. Most offshore poker sites offer a variety of promotions to entice players. These can include anything from deposit match bonuses to loyalty programs and rakeback. Offshore sites may invent any reason to deny bonus cash, even if the player is completely correct. And you have no other options.

Funds Might Not be Segregated: One of the most important features of a good poker room is segregated funds. If funds are segregated, your money is kept completely separate from the poker room’s operating costs. That means your funds will be completely safe even if the site goes bankrupt. Unfortunately, many offshore sites continue to keep funds separate. If something goes wrong, there’s no telling whether you’ll get your money. If online poker New York sites become available, this will not be a problem for them.

Customer Support is Poor or Non-Existent: If something goes wrong, good customer service is essential. If the software fails or you lose money, you must contact a helpful customer service representative to resolve the issue. Not all offshore sites provide phone or live chat support, and you may not hear from the company for weeks.

Famous New York Poker Players

famous poker players

Even though poker is mostly illegal in New York, the state has produced some of the game’s best players.

Howard Lederer

Howard Lederer was born in New Hampshire and spent much of his early poker career in New York City’s illegal gambling dens. Lederer switched from chess to poker and joined the city’s Mayfair Club, a legendary poker den frequented by pros such as Dan Harrington, Stu Ungar, and Erik Seidel. Lederer went on to win two World Series of Poker bracelets and was one of the faces of Full Tilt Poker before it closed to US players in 2011.

Erik Seidel

Erik Seidel, like Howard Lederer, came to poker through another popular game—in his case, backgammon. He became a regular alongside other pros who would win multiple World Series of Poker bracelets at the Mayfair Club. Seidel burst onto the poker scene in 1988, finishing second to Johnny Chan in the World Series of Poker Main Event. He went on to win eight World Series of Poker bracelets and a World Poker Tour title.

Stu Ungar

“The Kid,” Stu When he was introduced to poker, Ungar was one of New York’s best gin rummy players. Before being told to join the WSOP Main Event, he frequented the Mayfair Club. Ungar won his first Texas Hold’em tournament, the World Series of Poker Main Event, in 1980. A year later, he won his second consecutive race. Ungar would win the Main Event again in 1997, but his gambling addiction and substance abuse would eventually catch up. The Kid died in 1998, leaving no money behind.

Isaac Haxton

He discovered poker in college after a childhood fascination with Magic: The Gathering. He first learned the game at New York’s Turning Stone Casino before moving on to the internet. He quickly dominated high-stakes online cash games, becoming one of the most successful online players. Haxton now has nearly $28 million in live tournament earnings and ranks 16th all-time in money earners.

What Kind of Gambling is Legal in New York?

Gambling has a long history in New York, and the laws are becoming laxer. The Empire State has over 30 physical casinos, including tribal and newer commercial ones, and retail sportsbooks are now legal.

After a lengthy process, online and mobile sports betting became legal in 2021. The New York State Gaming Commission will decide who will be granted licenses and oversee the industry. Winning bids may come from the state’s commercial casinos or Native American tribes. MGM Yonkers Raceway, for example, may launch its own online sports betting apps.

Online casinos and poker are still illegal. However, given the number of New Yorkers who cross the border into New Jersey to gamble online, this may change in the future.

New York Poker History & Laws

2001: New York legalizes tribal casinos and permits racetracks to convert to racinos.

2013: The passing of the Upstate NY Economic Development Gaming Act paved the way for the establishment of new commercial casinos in New York. As of January 2021, four commercial casinos are open. All of them provide legal poker and sports betting.

2015: Sen. John Bonacic introduced New York online poker bill S05302. The bill proposes legalizing online poker games but does not prohibit “bad actor” sites.

2019: Senator Joseph Addabbo introduces Bill S00018, which seeks to make poker a skill-based game. The proposal includes 11 online poker licenses in New York.

2021: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has stated his support for mobile sports betting, which could be legalized in the state by the end of the year. Online casino gaming was not considered as of January, but this can change.

The Expected Path for Online Poker in NY

Other forms of gambling may follow now that online sports betting is legal in New York. The city of New York has a long history of both illegal and legal poker rooms. In addition, many of the state’s land-based casinos now offer Texas Hold’em or Omaha.

However, no legal online poker sites currently accept New York players. The path to legalized mobile sports betting has been difficult enough, and it may be several years before casino games and poker are available online.

Players in New York Hold’em have two options. They can cross into New Jersey or Pennsylvania and play online there. Online poker is legal in those two states as long as you stay within their borders. Simply create an account in New York, then cross the border with your smartphone or laptop to log in.

You can also participate in legal sweepstakes poker games online. Sweepstakes sites employ a distinct type of “Sweeps Coin” that You can use to participate in tournaments and cash games. Earn virtual coins and exchange them for real-world prizes!

NY Online Poker FAQ

Is online poker legal in NY?

No. While poker is legal in land-based casinos, no laws in New York allow for real-money online poker.

How Long Would It Take for The Sites to Go Live When it Becomes Legal?

The first poker rooms should open within a year after New York passes an online poker law. Many of the potential software providers already have a presence in the US.

Can a New Yorker Play Online Poker in New Jersey?

Of course, but you must be in New Jersey to play for real money. You can, however, register your account in New York before travelling across the other areas.

How do the online poker sites know where I live?

Online poker sites use geolocation tools such as GeoComply to ensure that you play legally within the borders of your state. You can also install location plugins on your mobile phone.

How safe are offshore poker sites?

Offshore poker sites should be avoided at all costs. Some offshore sites are laxer in data storage and random number generator regulation. We never advise you to join an offshore poker room.

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