The history of casino gaming in New York is a long and interesting story. Lotteries were popular in New York from when the state was first founded until the mid-1800s when they were outlawed. Later, in 1967, the state reintroduced lotteries, and they’ve remained one of the most popular ways to gamble since. New York is still one of the states with the most lottery sales today.
Aside from playing the lottery, people also enjoy other forms of legal gambling in New York, including sports betting and casino gaming. Recently, the state has seen significant growth in both land-based and online gambling, thanks to new regulations. The history of gambling in New York is detailed below.
Early Days of Betting in New York
Gambling was illegal yet still very common in New York around the turn of the century in 1900. Games of chance, such as cards, dice, and numbers, and sports betting, particularly horse racing, were popular pastimes. Gambling took place in the upper class’s private clubs that were located throughout New York City.
Betting on political elections was another popular gambling activity at the time. Between 1868 through 1940, there was a considerable scale of betting on US presidential elections, centered on New York, which accounted for over half of the activity. The amount of money spent on election betting has occasionally surpassed the amount of money traded on Wall Street’s stock markets.
Horse race betting was also popular, with bets being placed at the racetracks themselves. However, there was also a lot of illegal betting activity taking place away from the tracks. In 1970, New York legalized off-track betting, allowing betting shops to operate within the state. This was an attempt to legalize and regulate the betting industry, which had become associated with criminal activity.
The First Racinos
A racino is like a cross between a racetrack and a casino, allowing punters to enjoy betting on horse racing as well as playing games like slots and poker at video terminals. The New York Legislature approved video lottery terminal gambling at racetracks in 2001.
The first of these establishments launched in 2004, and there are now nine Racinos operating across the state. Bettors can enjoy betting as well as a range of casino games from these. Many racinos will also sell lottery tickets, making them one of the best places to enjoy gambling in New York for many years.
For many years, New York residents would visit racinos or travel to other states in order to enjoy some more traditional casino gaming. With Atlantic City just a short trip down the coast, New Yorkers would often visit the big casinos here for a short vacation before coming back home. However, the state of New York saw that they were missing out on potential tax revenue as a result.
In 2013, the state officially made casino gambling legal. This marked the conclusion of a protracted period of attempts to legalize in-person casino gaming. Before this, casino games had been limited to Indian reservations or casinos in neighboring states. The move allowed the state to collect much-needed tax revenue.
In 2018, the Supreme Court overturned the longstanding Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, giving individual states the right to regulate sports betting. New York soon joined the list of US states allowing sports betting, and in 2021, NY sportsbooks were able to accept both online and in-person sports bets.
At the moment, online casino gaming is still off the table in New York, but residents of the state can visit new Jersey if they want to enjoy the latest casino games from their mobile or computer.