The New York State Constitution bans casino gambling, but New York has:
- Lotteries, including Lotto, Lotteries, Daily Numbers, Keno and Scratch Off Tickets
- Parimutuel Betting on Horse Racing
- Native American Casinos
- Charity Bingo
- Racino’s, with casino-style slot machines and video table games that the state deems “Video Lottery Terminals”
All of these are legal through a combination of constitutional exceptions, federal policy on Native American lands and agreements negotiated solely between the Governor and tribal leaders.
As a result, our Constitutional "ban" is not really a ban at all, but merely a roadblock to having casino gambling in New York under a unified regulatory structure that ensures that New York's taxpayers are the prime beneficiaries of casino gambling in our state.
The State Contstitution could be ammended to allow for full casino gambling under state and local control.
The constitution is supposed to be the legal foundation of our state, but on casino gambling, multiple amendments and federal preemptions have all but eviscerated the original intent of the constitutional ban on gambling.
But with our state facing an ongoing budget crisis, a severe lack of jobs in many of its regions, and the need for an enhanced base for tourism from which to draw customers, it may be time to reconsider the ban overall. Could a streamlined and modernized constitutional policy keep more dollars in state, create jobs and generate much needed revenues for our schools, hospitals and other core services?
The increased state funds from gambling could allow us to again be a progressive leader on the issues that matter most to New Yorkers, including education, healthcare and environmental protection. Casino gambling could also be a shot in the arm to get our economy moving again.
In 2010, New York State’s total revenues from gaming were $2.7 billion, most of it from the lottery ($2.2 billion). Revenue estimates based upon permitting current Video Lottery Terminal locations to offer table games, or on allowing new commercial casinos altogether, range from hundreds of millions to over a billion dollars a year. In addition, increased business at state-licensed casinos could be a boon to local economies, including the Catskills and Upstate New York, where jobs and new investment continue to be scarce.
The New York State Constitution’s general prohibition against gambling provides that there be “no lottery or the sale of lottery tickets, pool-selling, book-making, or any other kind of gambling” in the state. The constitution also includes a series of exceptions to this ban to allow lotteries and horse racing, and in recent years federal preemption has allowed the development of Native American-owned casino's. This, plus the recent opening of multiple racino's which feature slot machines and video table games, has created a gambling industry the falls under multiple regulatory structures at different levels of government.
How did we get to this point in the state’s fundamental legal framework for gambling, and what is its practical effect?
Bill Of Rights
§9. 1. ... no lottery or the sale of lottery tickets, pool-selling, book-making, or any other kind of gambling, except lotteries operated by the state ... and except pari-mutual betting on horse races ...AND EXCEPT CASINO GAMBLING AT NO MORE THAN SEVEN FACILITIES AS AUTHORIZED AND PRESCRIBED BY THE LEGISLATURE...