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The first settlement in New York Harbour was established by Dutch fur traders in 1613. At the time, it was called New Amsterdam, and these early traders were also gamblers. The area was conquered by the British in 1664, and they changed the name of the area to New York. However, while the name of the place changed, gambling remained popular, and was socially acceptable under British rule.

Following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the size of the United States doubled, and the frontier moved west into Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys. New York City then developed into a major port and financial centre, and gambling thrived in taverns at the time. As well as betting on card and dice games, 'blood sports' also became a popular wagering sector.

However, in the 1900s, gambling in New York would lose much of its socially acceptable status, thanks to the end of Prohibition, the Great Depression and World War II.

Gambling is now heavily regulated in the United States, and New York is often thought of as being a strictly anti-gambling state. In fact, the State of New York drove the internet gambling crack-down in 2011 and were very instrumental in clarifying the scope of the Wire Act. However, there have been more recent moves towards a more progressive outlook on gambling.

Horse racing was the first legal gambling in New York State, and is still maintained on a pari-mutuel betting system. This particular sector of gambling has allowed race tracks to use Simulcast systems, showing races from other tracks around the US, and providing gaming machines for customers. Bingo games became legal in 1957, followed by lotteries in 1966 and charity gaming in 1970.

What forms of gambling are currently legal ?

There are several casinos in New York State that are open and licensed for customers to enjoy games. A bill for licensing commercial casinos in upstate New York was passed a few years ago, with three licences being awarded at the end of 2014.

Sports betting, lottery betting and bingo games are all still legal, as previously mentioned.

The online world of gaming is still considered illegal in New York at current, and although there is nothing explicitly stating that internet gambling is banned in the statues, the 2011 clampdown of online gambling sites is indication enough that the State believes it is illegal based on existing laws. Online poker also falls in line with this.

Types of licenses available in New York

With gambling on a variety of game sectors being legal in New York – albeit from laws that don't pertain to internet gaming – there are a selection of licenses that can be applied for via The State of New York.

Firstly, when it comes to Bingo, there are five different licenses available. These are as follows:

  • Bingo Games Lessor's License – This allows the lease of a property to authorised organisations for the holding of bingo games. Such a license is issued via the local municipality.
  • Bingo Games Supplier's License – This allows the manufacture or sale of bingo supplies and equipment to authorised bingo organisations.
  • Bingo Games, License to Conduct – Quite self-explanatory, but this one provides authorised organisations to conduct bingo games.
  • Bingo Games, License to Conduct (Amendment) – This allows an amendment to a bingo license, which allows an authorised organisation to change its officers and directors, persons in charge of games, auxiliary organisations assisting at games, assistants to persons in charge of games, expenses, prizes, or dates, hours and rent of games held.
  • Bingo Games, Permission to Disperse Net Proceeds – This allows the regulating agency to determine that bingo funds are disbursed for lawful purposes.

Games of chance licenses cover everything from casino games to bingo games, in general, and are also separated into various different applications, which are as follows:

  • Games of Chance Lessor's License - This allows the lease of a property to authorised organisations for the holding of games of chance. Such a license is issued via the local municipality.
  • Games of Chance Registration – Any game of chance that allows players to receive prizes in excess of five thousand dollars, must first have registration filed, which sets forth the contest rules, odds and other information.
  • Games of Chance, License to Conduct – Quite self-explanatory, but this one provides authorised organisations to conduct games of chance.
  • Games of Chance, License to Conduct (Amendment) – This allows an amendment to a games of chance license, which allows an authorised organisation to change its officers and directors, persons in charge of games, auxiliary organisations assisting at games, assistants to persons in charge of games, expenses, prizes, or dates, hours and rent of games held.
  • Games of Chance, Permission to Disperse Net Proceeds – This allows licensees to disburse games of chance proceeds for something other than charitable purposes.
  • Identification Number for Games of Chance and/or Bingo – This is required for an organisation to be able to conduct games of chance such as bell jar and casino night and/or bingo.
  • Identification Number and Registration to Conduct Senior Citizens Bingo and/or Games of Chance – This is required for an organisation to provide bingo and/or games of chance for amusement and recreation only to its members who are 55 years of age or older. Prizes should not exceed $5.00 per game.
  • Raffles, License to Conduct – This allows authorised organisations to conduct raffles and derive net proceeds or net profits from them in an amount less than $30,000.
  • Lottery Agent License – The issue of such allows an agent the permission to sell lottery tickets.

Each different license has an alternative fee, ranging from $25.00 up to $150, and all licenses, registrations and identification numbers must be acquired before games of chance can be conducted.

Head Office

  • New York State Gaming Commission
  • PO Box 7500
  • Schenectady, New York 12301-7500
  • Website: www.gaming.ny.gov