Last Updated: January 8, 2020
New York’s gambling laws have evolved over the past two centuries. The first major NY gambling law was passed 197 years ago, when state leaders signed into law the 2nd New York constitution. The 1822 law banned all gambling in New York state.
Since then, New Yorkers have legalized lottery betting, tribal casinos, land-based commercial casinos, VLT betting (lottery-based slots), daily fantasy sports, and even a (provisional) sports betting law. Even the unregulated parts of New York gambling are not prosecuted. New Yorkers can enjoy online casinos, sportsbooks, and poker sites without fear of prosecution. Here are the rest of the NY betting laws.
New York Gambling Laws
§ 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 device 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.
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. A machine which awards free or extended play is not a slot machine merely because such free or extended play may constitute something of value provided that the outcome depends in a material degree upon the skill of the player and not in a material degree upon an element of chance.
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.
§ 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.
§ 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.
§ 225.15 Possession of gambling records in the second degree. A person is guilty of possession of gambling records in the second degree when, with knowledge of the contents or nature thereof, he possesses any writing, paper, instrument or article: 1. Of a kind commonly used in the operation or promotion of a bookmaking scheme or enterprise; or 2. Of a kind commonly used in the operation, promotion or playing of a lottery or policy scheme or enterprise; except that in any prosecution under this subdivision, it is a defense that the writing, paper, instrument or article possessed by the defendant constituted, reflected or represented plays, bets or chances of the defendant himself in a number not exceeding ten. 3. Of any paper or paper product in sheet form chemically converted to nitrocellulose having explosive characteristics. 4. Of any water soluble paper or paper derivative in sheet form. Possession of gambling records in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.
§ 225.20 Possession of gambling records in the first degree. A person is guilty of possession of gambling records in the first degree when, with knowledge of the contents thereof, he possesses any writing, paper, instrument or article: 1. Of a kind commonly used in the operation or promotion of a bookmaking scheme or enterprise, and constituting, reflecting or representing more than five bets totaling more than five thousand dollars; or 2. Of a kind commonly used in the operation, promotion or playing of a lottery or policy scheme or enterprise, and constituting, reflecting or representing more than five hundred plays or chances therein. Possession of gambling records in the first degree is a class E felony.
§ 225.30 Possession of a gambling device. a. A person is guilty of possession of a gambling device when, with knowledge of the character thereof, he or she manufactures, sells, transports, places or possesses, or conducts or negotiates any transaction affecting or designed to affect ownership, custody or use of: 1. A slot machine, unless such possession is permitted pursuant to article nine-A of the general municipal law; or 2. Any other gambling device, believing that the same is to be used in the advancement of unlawful gambling activity; or 3. A coin operated gambling device with intent to use such device in the advancement of unlawful gambling activity. b. Possession of a slot machine shall not be unlawful where such possession and use is pursuant to a gaming compact, duly executed by the governor and an Indian tribe or Nation, under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, as codified at 25 U.S.C. §§§§ 2701-2721 and 18 U.S.C §§§§ 1166-1168, where the use of such slot machine or machines is consistent with such gaming compact and where the state receives a negotiated percentage of the net drop (defined as gross money wagered after payout, but before expenses) from any such slot machine or machines. c. Transportation and possession of a slot machine shall not be unlawful where such transportation and possession is necessary to facilitate the training of persons in the repair and reconditioning of such machines as are used or are to be used for operations in those casinos authorized pursuant to a tribal-state compact as provided for pursuant to section eleven hundred seventy-two of title fifteen of the United States Code in the state of New York. Possession of a gambling device is a class A misdemeanor.
§ 225.32 Possession of a gambling device; defenses. 1. In any prosecution for possession of a gambling device specified in subdivision one of section 225.30 of this chapter, it is an affirmative defense that: (a) the slot machine possessed by the defendant was neither used nor intended to be used in the operation or promotion of unlawful gambling activity or enterprise and that such slot machine is an antique; for purposes of this section proof that a slot machine was manufactured prior to nineteen hundred forty-one shall be conclusive proof that such a machine is an antique; (b) the slot machine possessed by the defendant was manufactured or assembled by the defendant for the sole purpose of transporting such slot machine in a sealed container to a jurisdiction outside this state for purposes which are lawful in such outside jurisdiction; (c) the slot machine possessed by the defendant was neither used nor intended to be used in the operation or promotion of unlawful gambling activity or enterprise, is more than thirty years old, and such possession takes place in the defendant’s home; or (d) the slot machine was transported into this state in a sealed container for the purpose of product development, research, or additional manufacture or assembly, and such slot machine will be or has been transported in a sealed container to a jurisdiction outside of this state for purposes which are lawful in such outside jurisdiction. 2. Where a defendant raises an affirmative defense provided by subdivision one hereof, any slot machine seized from the defendant shall not be destroyed, or otherwise altered until a final court determination is rendered. In a final court determination rendered in favor of said defendant, such slot machine shall be returned, forthwith, to said defendant, notwithstanding any provisions of law to the contrary.
§ 225.35 Gambling offenses; presumptions. 1. Proof of possession of any gambling device or of any gambling record specified in sections 225.15 and 225.20, is presumptive evidence of possession thereof with knowledge of its character or contents. 2. In any prosecution under this article in which it is necessary to prove the occurrence of a sporting event, a published report of its occurrence in any daily newspaper, magazine or other periodically printed publication of general circulation shall be admissible in evidence and shall constitute presumptive proof of the occurrence of such event. 3. Possession of three or more coin operated gambling devices or possession of a coin operated gambling device in a public place shall be presumptive evidence of intent to use in the advancement of unlawful gambling activity.
§ 225.40 Lottery offenses; no defense. Any offense defined in this article which consists of the commission of acts relating to a lottery is no less criminal because the lottery itself is drawn or conducted without the state and is not violative of the laws of the jurisdiction in which it was so drawn or conducted.