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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27425
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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What is the legality (or illegality) of running a home poker

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What is the legality (or illegality) of running a home poker game in New York State?

I am really very sorry to be the bearer of bad news here, but NYS would find your operation illegal. The letter of the law is about as clear as you can get:

Illegal wagers, bets and stakes. 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.

The rest of the law is not any more reassuring, should you find the above in any way ambiguous.

New York law provides the following definitions:

“Contest of chance” means any contest, game, gaming scheme or gaming device in which the outcome depends in a material degree upon an element of chance, notwithstanding that skill of the contestants may also be a factor therein.

“Gambling” A person engages 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.

So it's pretty clearcut. Here are all the NYS gaming laws.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you for your answer. I did find what you identified ambiguous. There's strong debate (especially one put out by the Poker Player's Alliance) that holds poker outside of traditional gaming/gambling from the standpoint that poker is not gambling, but rather a game of skill. Thus when someone risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance (which poker is not) or a future contingent event not under his control (which poker is under your control - let's say bluffing an opponent or calling a big bet based on the fact you know he/she is likely bluffing).... So the big debate is whether poker is considered 'gambling'. Furthermore, the added question is not just is it illegal to play, but to host. My understanding is that it is illegal to host a game in which the host (house) profits. My question is what about running a charitable event where 'the house' does not profit...?

I realize it's debatable, but if you are asking me whether NYS raids these and shuts them down, the answer is that yes they do. The present law does not treat them as debatable. And as you can see (I highlighted it in my first answer) NYS does not care that there's skill involved.

Here's the law for NYS Charitable events. NYS Is known to be one of the very toughest states with regard to gambling. Play the lottery, go to the track or OTB great. Anything else is unlawful except for charitable events approved by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.
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