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 New York Casinos, Poker & Gambling 

New York Casinos

Gambling in New York City is illegal, and the only forms of gambling that are allowed are NYS lottery and off-track betting (OTB), plus the occasional informal bingo events held in churches, charity events, and other recreational activities. However, these events require a state license to become operational.

Forms of gambling such selling of lottery tickets, pool-selling, book-making, save for lotteries associated with the state, are prohibited according to state law.

New York Consolidated Laws, Section 5-401, states that “all wages, bets or stakes, made to depend upon any race, or upon any gambling by lot or chance, or upon any lot, change, casualty, or unknown contingent event whatever, shall be unlawful.”

A person is considered to have engaged 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.”

Another offense includes having a hand in the advancement of any gambling activity. A person is considered to have contributed to the advancement of gambling when he helps out a gambling activity to function materially. This includes the creation of an establishment to support a particular event or game, purchasing materials that are needed for the game or event to function, by actually encouraging people to participate, or by taking records of the financial aspects of the activity.

Profiting from such activities is also a violation of state law. If a person receives money for a gambling activity without actually participating in the game itself, he may be charged with “profit from gambling activity” offense. People in possession of “something of value,” which may be exchanged for money or property or even credit, also counts as an offense. Also, having any gambling devices around is also considered illegal. Lottery tickets, policy slips, and other lottery paraphernalia are not counted toward gambling devices.

However, there are a few casinos in New York which are not considered illegal, as they are owned by Indians. They can operate gambling activities because Indian land is not subject to state law unless the Federal law places it under State law. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed by Congress in 1988, allowing federally recognized Indian tribes to hold gambling activities under specific circumstances. Games include bingo, pull tabs, lotto, punch boards, tip jars, and card games associated with Indian tribal land. Other events require a Tribal/State compact. To date, there are approximately 207 tribes and 330 gaming facilities found in 28 states.

“Federally recognized tribes” are tribes that enjoy a special, legal relationship with the US government, which is called a government-to-government relationship. These Indian tribes enjoy tribal sovereignty, which started when Indians first met the Europeans. Because of their sheer volume, Indians were given free reign and were considered sovereign governments. This relationship is well-guarded and protected by the tribes, and decisions about their land and people should always be consulted with them.

Indian gaming practices self-regulation, but there is also a committee that heads up the regulation of Indian gambling events, called the National Indian Gaming Commission. It was established by Congress to carry out regulations for Indian gaming. The commission regulates bingo, punch boards, pull tabs, lotto, tip jars, and some card games. Other games are subject to regulation of the State-Tribal gaming compacts.

To date, there are several Indian tribes in the state of New York. These are the Cayuga Nation of Indians, Oneida Indian Nation of New York, Onondaga Indian Nation, St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, Seneca Nation of Indians, Tonawanda Band of Seneca, and Tuscarora Nation. In Long Island, there are two tribes that are not recognized federally, but are recognized by the state. These tribes are Shinnecock Tribe and Unkechauge Nation of Poospatuck Indians.

Of these tribes, only three practice legally recognized gaming. These are The Seneca Nation of Indians, who take charge of Class II Seneca Niagara Casino, found in Niagara Falls. They also hold Class III Seneca Allegany Casino and Class II bingo on the Cattaragus and Allegany Reservation. Meanwhile, the St. Regis Mohawks operate Class II Mohawk Bingo Palace, and the Class III Akwesasne Mohawk Casino, which include Class II poker games. Finally the Oneida Indian Nation of New York runs the Turning Stone Casino, with Class II bingo and poker as games, with Class III gaming operations.

These tribal casinos are allowed to hold the following games: acey ducey, baccarat, bang, beat the dealer, bell jars, best poker hand, big nine, big six, blackjack, card wheel, caribbean stud poker, chuck-a-luck, color wheel, craps, the fruit wheel, hazard, horse race, horse race wheel, joker seven, keno, let it ride, merchandise wheels, mini baccarat, money wheel, pai gow, red dog, roulette, super pan game, and under and over seven. The Oneida are allowed to operate sic bo.

Aside from operating these games, Indian casinos are also allowed to serve alcohol, provided that they have acquired a license to do so. These licenses are issued by the New York State Liquor Authority. Of the three Indian gaming operators, the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino is legally allowed to serve alcohol, while the other two still have not obtained their licenses.

The Mohegan Sun casino comes highly recommended if you’re looking for good ambience and spectacular atmosphere. But if these choices are still not enough for you to enjoy a night of highrolling in New York, why not just drive down to Atlantic City, which is just 130 miles away? Its distance from New York City is almost the same as the local casinos found in the state, and offers more games, more options, and more venues. These options are much safer than engaging in illegal and underground gambling activities, which are said to be present in the state as well. Rather than risking it with these activities, you can opt to go to any of the suggested venues and enjoy yourself without having to worry.

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