New York is a state where gambling is specificially prohibited in the State
Constitution. Article 1, Section 9 states:
"No lottery or the sale of lottery tickets, pool-selling, book-making, or any
other kind of gambling, except lotteries operated by the state ... and except
pari-mutuel betting on horse races as may be prescribed by the legislature ...
shall hereafter be authorized or allowed within this state; and the legislature
shall pass appropriate laws to prevent offenses against any of the provisions
of this section."
These "appropriate laws" are detailed in New York Penal Law, Article 140,
225.00 -- Gambling offenses; definitions of terms. They do not specifically
mention gambling as an offense. Rather, it is illegal to promoting gambling, to
possess gambling records, and to possess gambling devices.
"Games of chance" are detailed in Chapter 213. Bingo for senior citizens, for
example, is one exception to the law.
Another exception to New York's anti-gambling law are Indian Casinos. These
establishments fall under the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, a federal
law "permitting federally recognized Indian tribes the ability to conduct
gaming activities under certain circumstances. This law allows traditional
Indian gaming, bingo, pull tabs, lotto, punch boards, tip jars, and certain
card games on tribal land."
Illegal to Play with Friends?
As mentioned before, gambling itself is not specifically illegal in New York's
Penal Law. You could, however, be found in possession of promoting gambling or
possesing gambling records or devices. New York Penal Law, Chapter 40, Section
240.35 details gambling in a public place, or "a place to which the public or a
substantial group of persons has access, and includes, but is not limited to,
highways, transportation facilities, schools, places of amusement, parks,
playgrounds, and hallways, lobbies and other portions of apartment houses and
hotels not constituting rooms or apartments designed for actual residence." If
you are playing poker in the park, you could be charged with loitering, as it
is illegal to "loiter or remain in a public place for the purpose of gambling
with cards, dice or other gambling paraphernalia."
Federal gambling laws?
Over the years, the Federal goverment has passed a number of laws to help state
governments enforce their anti-gambling laws. These include:
1949 - ban on gambling on ships
1961 - Wire Act -- prohibits transmission of wagering information in interstate
or foreign bets
1970 - Prohibition of illegal gambling businesses -- makes violation of a state
anti-gambling law a federal crime
1992 - Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act -- unlawful for any
government, including states and tribes, to authorize legal wagers that are
based in any way on sports events. (Nevada, Delaware, and Oregon grandfathered
And, more recently, the sticky issue of internet gambling:
The Internet Prohibition Act, currently in Congress. Aims to prevent the use of
certain bank instruments for Internet gambling.
Also related to New York and internet gambling, in 1999, a New York company
with servers in Antigua, where gaming is legal, was found guilty of breaking
state laws prohibit taking wagers via phone lines.
Here are a few articles on law as it applies to the internet and New York:
Analysis of Internet Gambling Under New York Law
(This is also a good site for general New York gambling law.)
Internet Gambling Regulation
Other Helpful Sites
American Gaming Association
New York State Racing and Wagering Board
New York gaming law
New York penal law
Hope this helps you out,