Helo and thank you for your question.
Unfortunately, the following are criminal acts under Section 225 of the Penal Law:
* Promoting gambling - when a person knowingly advances or profits
from unlawful gambling activity
* Possession of gambling records
You can read the text of the law here (Scroll down to ARTICLE
As defined in the statute,
"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.
"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.
The question whether poker, being to some degree a game of skill,
might not constitute gambling under the law, has come up here before:
Legality of Poker in New York City
Although the Researcher seems to indicate that poker might be such a
contest of skill that it could be lawful to run a poker game in New
York, it's apparent to me (and as written in the blog cited above)
that your tournament would be illegal. Plus we know that the New York
City police have raided poker rooms in the City.
Making a charitable contribution out of some of your profits does not
change the answer.
You also can't sell lottery or raffle tickets as part of the program.
"'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
[I understand that the raffle you describe in your question is a
little different, but if it's not itself a gambling scheme then it's
just a sort of ticket or prize draw from the poker contest]
Sorry to be so negative, but that's the law!
Search terms used:
"new york" "promoting gambling" "penal law" poker
Thanks again for bringing us your question.
Google Answers Researcher
Clarification of Answer by
30 Jun 2005 10:42 PDT
Although you've already rated my answer, I will respond to your
Your question described a "tournament"
Definition of a poker tournament
"All players enter a tournament for the same amount of money, called
the buy-in. In addition, the poker room or casino takes out an entry
fee from all players entering the tournament. If the buy-in is $100
the house might take an extra $10, which means that the actual amount
paid by the player is $110. For a tournament with 100 players this
gives a total prize pool of 100 x $100 = $10,000. The pay out
structure depends on the tournament, but usually there is a prize for
approximately every ten players. In this case, it might be 30% for
first place followed by 20%, 13%, 10%, 7%, 6%, 5%, 4%, 3%, and 2%
respectively, thus making it ten prizes in total."
That's what makes it illegal gambling.
Clearly under the definition of gambling that I provided to you, and
which you quote back to me in your Clarification Request, if the
participant stakes or risks nothing of value upon the outcome, i.e.
the participant maybe buys a ticket but win or lose gets nothing back,
then you'd be OK.