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New York Online Casinos

New York

Surprisingly, New York has never been a particularly active state for casinos. That’s not to say that gambling hasn’t been popular there: Atlantic City draws plenty of visitors from the Empire State, and the horse racing industry has traditionally been a major player there too. But as far as slots and table games go, for most of the state’s history, New Yorkers have been out of luck.

Recently, however, this has changed. Not only are “racinos” now common in the state, but there are full resorts on the way, a response to the increasingly competitive gambling market in the Northeast. With this expansion has also come a call for the regulation of online gambling, though it remains to be seen how much movement will occur on this front.

Open Market

At the moment, there is no regulation or licensing of Internet casinos in the state of New York. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t play online if you live there. In fact, the majority of US facing casinos accept New York players. This is because it is considered a grey market jurisdiction. No laws exist to prevent individuals from using these sites, thus you can feel free to play at any casino willing to take your business. The only downside is that due to the lack of regulation, the software choices are limited. You won't find any Vegas slot games by the likes of IGT, WMS or Konami. Instead you can choose from the likes of Rival, RTG and Topgame, all of whom offer a broad range of games to players throughout the US.

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A Change is Gonna Come

While gaming in New York remains unregulated, it is highly like that this will change at some point down the line. Over the past couple of years, there have been some legislators that have attempted to push bills that would allow for at least regulated online poker in the state. In September 2015, there was even a hearing in front of the state’s Senate Standing Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, in which several casino executives made it clear they would like to see such an opportunity made available to them. That comes as little surprise: with a population of nearly 20 million, this may be one of the few states that can actually support a poker site on its own.

New Player on the Live Scene

Live casinos are a relatively new innovation in the Empire State, and have been introduced in a series of waves that is still ongoing. The first of these was the opening of Native American casinos, most of which are located far north of New York City. These include some major operations such as the Turning Stone Resort in Verona, the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls, and the Seneca Buffalo Creek in Buffalo.

Given the success of these venues, many owners of race tracks were interested in adding at least limited forms of gaming to their existing locations. That began in 2001, when state officials voted to allow video lottery terminals at several tracks. By 2004, Saratoga Raceway had brought these slot-like games to their facility, becoming the first track in the state to do so.

Now, these “racinos” have become commonplace throughout New York, and the games that are offered in them have expanded greatly. Perhaps the most famous of these locations is the Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, which now hosts not only slot machines, but also electronic versions of many table games. Another well-known venue is the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Racetrack, located in the borough of Queens, which opened in 2011.

But these partial casinos weren’t the end of the state’s gambling expansion. Facing increasing pressure from resorts being built or already opened in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut and other neighbors, lawmakers began pushing for an amendment to the state’s constitution that would allow for commercial, Las Vegas-style resorts to be built. In 2013, voters approved a referendum on the topic, opening the door to the first commercial casinos in the state.

In 2014, the state’s Gaming Facility Location Board voted unanimously to approve three casinos at various upstate locations: one in Schenectady, one in the Catskills town of Thompson, and one in Tyre, near the Finger Lakes. A fourth license was available, but was not recommended, despite some speculation that it might go to a location in Orange County – the closest location to New York City available in this round of licensing.

Future Developments

New York’s gaming industry is still primed for some major developments going forward, both in terms of live and online games. For starters, the process of approving and building its commercial resorts has just begun, and there are still a few twists yet to come.

First, there is the question of what to do with the Southern Tier region. This economically depressed, rural area to the north of Pennsylvania had desperately hoped (and expected) to receive a casino license in the first round of approvals, and was stunned when a project in the Finger Lakes region won out ahead of them. However, with a fourth license still on the table, the Gaming Facility Location Board has recently recommended that the Southern Tier should receive a casino license, one that would likely go to the Tioga Downs racetrack.

In the future, even more resorts might be built throughout the state. While the initial round of expansion only allowed for up to four resorts in upstate areas, the constitutional amendment that was passed mentions up to seven casinos in total. Should the process move forward without the state losing its appetite for gaming, it’s possible that more lucrative locations could be considered for the remaining licenses in a few years: perhaps Westchester County, Long Island, or even New York City itself. There is no telling how much money could be spent to build in any of these areas, and it is likely that the world’s largest gaming companies would be interested in developing a property in any of them.

Questions of Internet gambling are also certain to be debated in the state going forward. It’s hard to say how much traction online poker will get, though it seems probable that a new version of State Senator John Bonacic’s Internet poker bill will be introduced again in 2016. With the issue continuing to be raised, New York is on the short list of states that might pass such regulations in the next few years – farther away than Cali or Pennsylvania, for sure, but still a legitimate possibility.

The state has also launched itself into the debate over daily fantasy sports sites. In November 2015, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman declared that daily fantasy operations were illegal under the state’s gaming laws, setting off what is sure to be a tense legal battle over the status of the industry.

Update - February 4, 2016

A breakthrough was achieved in early 2016, when the state senate’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee passed an online poker bill for the first time, approving the legislation to move forward by a unanimous 9-0 vote. This is still far from a final approval of Internet gaming in the state, and some officials want to wait until after the land-based resorts are up and running before considering this further expansion – but it is still a positive step for anything hoping to see the state regulate such games.

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