Poker, as far as the laws in the State of New York are concerned is classed as a game of chance and therefore is illegal. Section 5-401 of the Penal Code states, "All wagers, bets, or stakes, made to depend upon any race, or upon any gaming by lot or chance, or upon any lot, chance, casualty, or unknown or contingent event whatever, shall be unlawful". This law hardly makes things clear and is left open to wide interpretation and even widespread, "what exactly does that mean?" Gambling is classed as when a person risks something of value on upon the outcome of a contest of chance, and here lies the point of contention in that many argue poker is not a game of chance but one of skill. Skill or chance, the fact is that many residents of New York State enjoy playing poker, whether it be at an online room such as BetOnline Poker, or at home in a game with friends.
Playing Poker at Home in New York
As far as home games are concerned then you don't really have to worry unless, as in many states, you are using your home games for profit, i.e taking rake or charging a fee to play. If you have a few friends around and you are involved in a low stakes game then there is no law being broken. Even if you play in an underground poker club where the establishment is taking a rake or fee, then you are breaking no law. The owners of the establishment will end up with charges, however the worst that can happen to you is that your chips are taken and used in a court of law as evidence.
Playing Poker in a Casino in New York
It can be seen by section 5-401 that New York takes a hard stance on all forms of gambling, however Native American tribes are given plenty of space to own and operate authorized casinos in the state. They are regulated and offer the more serious poker player than the home game player a very good environment to play. There are some great casinos in New York State that are in fact more like resorts and enjoy large amounts of gamblers coming through their doors week in, week out, including of course those looking for a game of poker.
Playing Online Poker in New York State
new York is one of the very few states that have attempted to address the issue of playing poker online. However, they have never succeeded in stopping it in any way. The proposed legislation would make online poke illegal but the first amendment free speech rights have always stood in the way, much to the delight of the thousands of players from New York State. There are many online poker rooms that cater for players in New York such as BetOnline Poker and Americas Cardroom, both of which welcome new players on a daily basis. The facts are that no law exists in the state stopping online poker and with there being no federal law opposing it then residents of the fine State of New York are free to log on and enjoy the virtual felt.