New York State has been a hotbed of poker for decades with a storied underground scene made famous, in part, in the movie Rounders. Live poker recently moved from the backrooms to casinos in the Empire State, but what about online poker in NY?
This review will look at the state of real money online poker in New York State, answering your questions about poker online in New York including when online poker might be coming to NY and what form it might take. There are currently no legal options for online poker in NY, but there are a few options for NY residents to find online games.
New York has been a big part of the live poker scene for decades, with the vibrant underground scene in New York City getting fictionalized fame from the hit poker movie Rounders. The state is the home of legendary players like Erik Seidel, Stu Ungar, and Isaac Haxton among others.
New York moved out of the backrooms and above ground in 2013 when the state legalized and regulated commercial casinos, finally giving live poker a legal forum for the game. However, online poker has lagged behind a little bit, with virtual cardrooms still running afoul of NY’s gaming laws.
This article will attempt to look at the current state of online poker in New York, and answer some questions about when New Yorkers can expect to be online, what options they have now, and what options they may have when it finally does come online.
While NY has long been a hotbed of live poker, it has only been for the last decade or so that players have been able to enjoy the game in the light of day. Until 2013, the only option for poker players looking for a game was the underground scene.
Many famed players from New York, such as OG legend Erik Seidel, cut their teeth in the NY underground poker scene, but legal options for lovers of the game have been limited until recently in the Empire state. Since 2013, players have been able to find legal and regulated action in live casinos and cardrooms throughout the state.
Real money online poker remains off the books in New York for the time being, however, but there is hope on the horizon for players looking to play from their home computers or mobile devices. There are legal moves in the works to set up a framework for online poker, while online sports betting has been legal in NY since early 2022.
Online Poker Prospects in New York
There is hope on the horizon for NY poker players looking for real money online games. The legalization of online sports betting in January of 2022 signaled the state’s willingness to move into the area of online gaming.
While online casino games remain illegal in NY, the new framework for sports betting shows the state recognizes the difference between games of skill and pure gambling, and online poker’s prospects rest on that distinction. NY state Senator Joseph Addabbo has introduced Bill S00018 allowing poker to fall under the category of a skill game. The bill would allow up to 11 operator licenses under the purview of the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) with Tribal casinos and video lottery facilities allowed to apply. The bill also stipulates a 15% tax rate on gross gaming revenue (GGR), adding extra revenue to the state’s coffers for a variety of social, health, and education programs.
Current Online Poker Regulation in New York
There are currently no legal options for New Yorkers looking to play real money online poker at home. While residents of the Empire state do have the option to play on “sweepstakes” model poker sites, competing directly for cash prizes on the online poker felt, in cash games or multi-table tournaments, is still prohibited in New York.
The current legislation under consideration is Bill S00018 sponsored by Sen Joseph Addabbo. The bill seeks to declare poker a game of skill under the law, paving the way for legalized online poker games in New York. Among the provisions of the new bill are:
Regulation/licensing by NYSGC
Up to 11 operator licenses
Unlimited skins per license
Tribal casinos and lottery outlets included in licensing
$10 million up-front application fee for license seekers
15% tax rate on GGR
New York Online Poker Timeline
It is unclear when the NY state legislature might consider the online poker legislation, but things could move fairly quickly once the green light comes on. Based on other markets, online poker could be live in NY very quickly after operators get licensed.
The licensing process itself could take some time, however. Once a legalized framework is in place, part of the licensing process will be due diligence on operators in terms of software and RNG as well as cultural aspects like responsible gaming products and strategies.
In many US states, part of the licensing process for online poker operators includes partnering with land-based casinos already in the market. That could further delay launch of online poker after legislation is passed, and the process could take as long as a year or more before online poker is live.
New York’s neighbor, New Jersey, has had online poker for years now, but when it was first legalized it was nearly a year before Garden state residents could play online legally.
How New Yorkers Can Play Legal Real Money Online Poker
Here follows a few ways for New Yorkers to play poker onlie for real money.
Out-Of-State Online Poker
While New Yorkers can’t play real money online poker at home right now, there are options for players itching to get into an online game. New York’s neighbors, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, have legal online poker, and players do not need to be residents to sign up and play.
To play in either NJ or PA, New Yorkers do have to drive across the state border to be sure they are physically located in the state before they can play. That’s really the only requirement though – as long as players are within the state borders, they’ll be able to fire up online games in either neighboring state. For players in New York City, the most convenient out-of-state options will likely be NJ or PA, however players in the NW part of the state in cities like Buffalo also have the option of Michigan across Lake Erie, along with PA to the south. Players in northern NY may even consider border hopping to the Canadian market of Ontario to try their hand.
While real money online poker is still illegal in New York, residents of the Empire state can find online action through the sweepstakes poker model. Operators like Global Poker offer games where players can win tokens which can then be redeemed for prizes.
While social poker sites like Global Poker are one step removed from the direct cash of real money poker, the game dynamics are the same as online real money poker, with the main difference coming in how the prizes are structured. Moving away from the direct money model allows the operators to offer poker games with real rewards while still staying within the gaming regulations of states like NY.
Live Poker in New York
While players are still waiting for poker action on the online felt in New York, there is a lot of action on the live felt now. What was once a storied underground scene from New York City emerged into the light in 2013 when laws were relaxed for live casinos.
Since then, a number of popular rooms have sprung up in the state offering live poker action in the form of both cash games and tournaments. Here is a look at a few of the most popular.
Turning Stone Resort Casino
Location: Verona, NY
Hotel on property
Turning Stone Resort Casino is an all-in-one casino and hotel destination with a state of the art poker room. Players at Turning Stone get access to 32 tables of action with regular tournaments and cash games on the go. Among the special events at Turning Stone are the chance to win a seat to the 2023 WSOP Main Event, and a WSOP Circuit event upcoming in 2023 with 16 Rings on offer.
Resorts World Catskills
Location: Monticello, NY
Hotel on property
Nestled in the beauty of the Catskills Mountains, Resorts World Catskills offers a lot of poker for players. Close to Manhattan, the 19-table poker room has cash games on the go throughout the week with regular tournaments through the month as well. Among the bonuses players enjoy are daily high-hand bonuses up to $500 every half-hour.
Rivers Casino & Resort is conveniently located less than 15 miles from the capitol of Albany. The 16-table poker room offers cash games and tournaments throughout the month with high-hand promotions daily.
del Lago Resort & Casino
Location: Waterloo, NY
Daily cash games and promotions on offer
Hotel on Property
Another option for live poker in New York is del Lago Resort & Casino. The 14-table poker room offers daily cash games with high-hand and Iron Man promotions throughout the month.
New York Online Poker FAQs
Can I play online poker in New York State?
The short answer for real money online poker is no. It is possible to play online poker through social poker apps like Global Poker, which operate on a Sweepstakes model instead of real money, but there are currently no legal online poker options for real money players in New York State.
Can I play online poker in New Jersey or PA?
Yes. Both the neighboring states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania have legalized online poker with vibrant online scenes involving several competing operators. While New Yorkers have to travel to one of those states to be able to play, there is no residency requirement so as long as the player is physically located in NJ or PA, they play online in those states.
Can I play on NJ or PA sites from NY?
No. Online poker software in PA and NJ makes use of geolocation to prevent players located outside those states from playing on their sites. A big part of the regulatory process for both states involves ensuring that only players within the geographical boundaries of the state in question can play. However, there are no residency requirements to create an account and play, so online poker trips to neighboring states are a legitimate option for NY players.
Can I play on offshore poker sites?
The short answer is no. Most global poker operators who are licensed do not allow players from New York to sign up and play, since their global regulatory status is often dependent on following local regulations across the world. That means the reputable offshore sites do not allow players from jurisdictions like New York which don’t allow online poker.
While there are some less reputable sites that offer accounts to players from anywhere, including New York, without regard to local regulations, playing on those sites is not recommended, since players may well be subject to the whims of rogue operators. With no local regulation to protect them, and a demonstrated willingness to ignore best-practices and offer a contraband product in markets where it isn’t allowed, players on unregulated offshore sites run real risks of identity fraud, financial fraud, late payment processing, poor or non-existent bot detection/prevention, and poor customer support, just to name a few.
When will online poker be legal in NY?
There is no clear answer to this question, but legislation is at least in the works to legalize online poker in the state. The recent rollout of legal sports betting in the state shows promise for the future legalization of other skill-based gambling like poker.
Once legalization happens, things could move quite quickly. In other jurisdictions, players have been at the online felt within a year of laws being passed. There will be software, management, and partnership reviews to complete before licensing can happen for any given operator however, so the lead-time from legislation to live online poker will almost certainly be measured in months at least.