NY is expected to look at other gaming expansions in 2018

New York Takes Raffle Sales Online; Will Poker, Sports Betting Be Next?

NY online raffle
It’s not online poker or online sports betting, but people in New York do have a new way to gamble online.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed a the Charitable Gaming Act, a law which authorizes online lottery sales, as first reported by the Buffalo News.

Cuomo had previously vetoed a similar bill, saying he believed it violated the constitution.

Raffles online in NY?

The new gaming law is aimed at making it easier for charities to hold raffles. In some of these raffles — called 50/50s — half the money in the pool goes to go to the organization holding the raffle; the rest goes to the winner. No matter how you slice it, it’s clearly a form of gambling.

Such raffles are common around the country and especially at pro sporting events in the US and Canada. The raffles commonly hand out thousands of dollars to the winner. That person generally has to be at the event to purchase a raffle ticket and win the cash prize. Now, that won’t necessarily have to be the case in New York.

More on the new raffle law

The foundation of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres apparently helped lead the charge for the new law, according to the Buffalo News. More from that news outlet:

Starting in six months, when the law takes effect, charities can advertise their raffle offerings online, and then sell tickets online to consumers using credit or debit cards. One of the bill sponsors, Senator Patrick Gallivan, an Elma Republican, said the online authorization will restrict the sales to purely locally based consumers.

It appears to be a further liberalization from a team in the NHL. The pro hockey organization now has a franchise in Las Vegas.

Here’s the law’s actual language on online sales:

Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, games known as “raffles”, at the discretion of the games of chance licensee, may be purchased  via the internet or mobile application with a debit or credit card, upon the account holder’s direct consent, provided, however,  that the  gaming  commission  shall  promulgate any necessary rules and regulations…

Baby steps for iGaming

Between this law and a 2016 daily fantasy sports law, the state’s gaming commission is become more familiar with forms of online gaming.

One example is geolocation. That is the process of making sure that people in jurisdictions outside of New York (or other banned locations) can’t access real-money gaming. DFS sites that operate in NY must implement such geolocation.

It’s not clear if geolocation would be employed for online raffles. But that’s a costly service that might have the bar lowered for raffles. How online raffles keep people from playing who shouldn’t be able to — either by location or age — will be worked out by NY’s commission.

Other forms of online gambling next?

Could it all set the stage for more online gambling in New York, such as poker, lottery or sports betting?

  • The state has considered online poker several times in recent years. However, a bill hasn’t been able to make it past the Assembly. Another push for iPoker is expected in 2018.
  • The state has already authorized sports betting at the state’s four commercial casinos. However, lawmakers want to extend this to other land-based facilities in the state. It’s not clear if online sports betting is on anyone’s radar in the state.
  • The state lottery offers the ability to buy “subscriptions” to some games online. But it’s far short of the online lotteries that have been legalized in a handful of states.

Of course, there are lots of other issues in play that make none of the above a no-brainer. Namely, other forms of gaming are more controversial than DFS and charitable raffles. And there are more logistics to properly regulating these forms of iGaming.

Still, New York is at least more comfortable with taking even a limited form of new gaming online. That should be a positive sign for further expansions.

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Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about poker since 2008.