New Yorkers are a proud bunch, especially so in New York City. Folks there tend to look out for one another, treat everyone fairly, and not look enviously at their neighbors.
But widen the net to neighboring states, and there is one thing that New Yorkers have not got access to, which their neighbors have, and which they are increasingly jealous about: online gaming.
Imagine you are a fan of online casino games, online sports betting, or online poker. If you live anywhere in New York state, including New York City, you cannot take part in any of these activities, even though online gaming such as poker used to be so popular there.
But you only need to go one meter over the state line into neighboring states, and it is entirely legal – this includes New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which have both taken advantage of the legislation to make online gaming legal within their state lines.
Any state can do so if it can get the bill through. But as you will see from this report on New York casinos, New York has not made that leap.
Why is Online Gaming Not Legal?
There was a time in the US when online gambling was not only hugely popular; it was perfectly legal all over the country. From the early days of online casinos and bingo to online poker’s growth, Americans loved spending their free time and cash online.
The great online poker boom of the early noughties, sparked by online qualifier Chris Moneymaker winning the World Series of Poker in 2003 for $2.5 million, is a good case in point. The game exploded online, with hundreds of thousands enjoying their online poker games. Online casinos and sports rode on the back of the wave.
Then it all came crashing down in 2006 when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was approved. Suddenly, online gambling in the US was outlawed. The majority of online operators pulled out of the country immediately; the rest followed just a few years later. And although Americans could play on some online platforms, these were not licensed.
As you might imagine, the gambling companies were not going to take all of this lying down. Lobbyists began acting on their behalf to persuade lawmakers at the federal level to change their minds and bring online gaming back to the US.
Happily, it worked, although the decision was thrown over to the State judiciary. It became legal for a state to allow online gambling so long as the operator partnered with a live casino or racetrack operation. Plus, the new online sites would only be allowed to let those who lived within the State lines to play.
First out of the blocks was New Jersey, which allowed online casino and poker games first in 2013 – it was PokerStars first return to the US – and then sportsbooks, too. Nevada allowed sports betting and poker online, but not online casino play, and then the number of states following suit rose quickly.
West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Delaware, Mississippi, and most recently, Tennessee agreed to various online gaming formats.
And So, Back to New York
With States beginning to allow online gambling again, punters everywhere have been hoping their own state follows suit. In New York, they feel especially aggrieved because of the freedoms enjoyed by those neighbors in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
However, although a bill is not imminent, things are looking up. New land casinos have opened up in the state, and there is a tradition of poker in New York City. Getting the green light might not be as difficult as in other states, which are still opposed completely to online gambling. In California, for example, there is a ban on all online gambling, except for a few sweepstake-based concerns. This is perhaps surprising for a state that allows land-based casinos, something you’ll see elsewhere in the country, such as Florida.
So, for now, New Yorkers must cross over to New Jersey or Pennsylvania to have any chance of enjoying online gambling once again.
And when they do, they will notice some significant changes to what some of them will remember. All online games can now be played on cells or tablets; the graphics are amazing – and you can even play live dealer casino games. There is a lot to look forward to!