New York Gambling History

The laws governing gambling in New York State permit numerous kinds of land-based gambling, with hundreds of thousands of locals enjoying betting year after year. But then again, when it comes to regulated online betting, the Empire state falls far behind other US States like Pennsylvania and Nevada. Even though the State has a large number of race tracks and land-based casinos, its administration is yet to legalize online casinos and online poker. Nevertheless, our hopes are high because legislators are already mulling over online casino betting bills in 2019.

Fortunately for sports betting enthusiasts, you can place wagers in several local establishments on different sports and even place mobile wagers as well.  For exclusive online gambling you can also participate in fantasy sports competitions, because as we speak, online sportsbook platforms are not quite where most gamers would like. All this is because of the restrictions brought about by the law.

From current statistics, the state of New York has been losing out on millions of dollars of returns from online betting revenue every single year. But then, as everything about gambling via the internet is set in stone, the state focuses on raking in the tax proceeds from land-based casinos and race tracks, fantasy sports, plus hundreds of bingo halls and lotto competitions. In case you didn’t know, the New York State Lottery is one of the most recognizable state lotteries countrywide. It remains a driving force in the Mega Millions and Powerball multi-state lottery associations where millions of dollars are won on each draw.

If you’ve ever had any questions about the state of anything about gambling in New York, then you are in the right place. In today’s dossier, we’ll take a look at the current situation and what we expect in the near future in the Empire state, especially for online gambling. But before that, let us take a trip down the history of gambling in the state so that you can find out how it all started.

A Brief History of Gambling in New York

From time immemorial, the Empire State has always had a tussle with gambling. It goes as far back as the 1700s, where much of the gambling involved lotteries – something that we’d think of like a raffle in this 21st century. Basically, lots were drawn after holding prize raffles, an activity that went on with the law’s approval up until the early 1800s. By the 1820s, there was a lot of concern raised after a lot of fraudulent activities related to the lotteries were uncovered, and the state started a gradual ban.

For the rest of the century, there was a lot of back and forth on how best to enforce the anti-gambling laws. However, it proved to be a tough nut to crack because it’s during that time when horse race gambling boomed as well. When the Great Depression kicked in at the beginning of the 1900s, there was a dire need for an increase in government revenues, and right there, tables were turned. For the first time, the ban on some forms of gambling was progressively lifted in the years that followed.

State Lottery, Pari-mutuel & Off-Track Betting

Pari-mutuel betting on horses was finally authorized in 1939, and less than 20 years later, the likes of charitable bingo were allowed. When New Hampshire launched their State Lottery in 1964, New York followed suit in 1966, becoming the second state to start a government-operated lottery. In a bid to collect more revenue from gambling, lawmakers finally approved an expansion of wagering on horse races to allow off-track betting in 1970.

Tribal Casinos, Racinos & Commercial Casinos

As things progressed, tribal casinos were later legalized by 1993 in New York, and after that, racinos followed less than 10 years later, in 2001. The racinos came to being after an increase in the demand of other forms of betting other than on the horses in the race tracks. Of course, the state government saw another opportunity to rake in more revenue as long as there were clear lines on how the activities were to be conducted. Thus, locals could also play other gambling games in racetracks which included lotto and bingo, other than wagering on the horses alone.

All the while, neighboring states were also introducing more liberal gambling laws, and it proved to be a substantial source of revenue for the states that regulated casino gaming activity.  It became more critical than ever for the lawmakers in the empire state to do something about the legalization of commercial casino gambling.

Thankfully, come November 2013, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo championed a proposal to officially make commercial casinos legal through a referendum. In the referendum, 57% of the population supported this new bill to expand commercial betting activities in the state.

By the end of 2013, 7 full-scale casinos were already licensed and operational, especially in the upstate regions where there was need to bring more jobs and bring in more money into the State’s economy.