New York has for the longest time been known to be a strictly anti-gambling state. In 2011, there was the famous ‘Black Friday’ crackdown which was primarily driven to stop illegal online gambling. But that was then – today the atmosphere is changed, and to prove that sentiment, an act was recently passed to authorize commercial casinos.

The anti-gambling laws in New York State date back to 1821. Although it was banned by law, some families who were part of the Mob controlled underground casinos. Horseracing was the first legal gambling in New York and it was only permitted in the track. Horseracing developed, making them into ‘ricinos’ which are now popular entertainment venues. Since then, bingo was legalized in 1957, followed by the lottery in 1966 and charity in 1970. As time went by, there was a breakthrough as casinos on tribal land were allowed to operate the class 3 games which included table games and slots.

This action led to the boom in casino building by the Indian tribes. This in turn gave New Yorkers a wide choice of casino and poker rooms. In 2013, an amendment was passed to license commercial casinos, driven by the need for economic development for the upstate area, which will see several new casinos open.

New York State commercial casino

Officially established in December 2016, the New York State commercial casino became active when Tioga Downs casino in Nichols opened its doors. In addition, two more casinos launched in the following months. They consisted of Del Lago Resort & Casino in Waterloo and Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady. Although the commercial casinos have been legalized, gambling expansion is prohibited under the state’s Constitution. Only when amendments are adopted can the expansion be done. In 2013 the amendment was introduced and signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The amendment allowed the construction of up to four Las Vegas-style casinos in upstate New York.

It is estimated that the New York State commercial casino industry could generate $325 million in annual gross revenue. In the period between December 2016 and May 31, 2017 the state’s three operational casinos have generated a total amount of $133.6 million. It has also become evident to the New York state Gaming Commission that the local market has been developing at a stable rate in the past several months.

Although the estimated $325 million annual gross gaming revenue was far-fetched and may not be accomplished by the end of 2017, the demand for the casinos is high. What is most important now for the state is keeping casino clients within its borders despite the challenge of competitive neighboring states.

Tioga Downs Racetrack owner Jeff Gural was the first to receive the casino license in 2015. Gural has been in the gambling industry for quite some time. Tioga Down officially opened its doors in early December, and the establishment has managed to generate a revenue of $34.5 million between its inception and May 2017.

Although the establishment is the smallest among the three commercial casinos, it is doing considerably well. It features a total of 841 slot machines, 25 table games, and 12 poker tables. Slots machines were the most famous and highly preferred game; they have generated an estimated revenue of $29.5 million. Table games followed suit with a total of $10.3 million, and finally poker games, which generated the smallest amount of $656,989. Tioga experienced a massive increase in revenue in March 2017 totaling $6.2 million, considered to be their best month yet.

The second commercial casino to open its doors was Del Lago Resort and Casino. It was launched on February 1, 2017. Between its opening date and May 31 it has generated a gross revenue of $52 million, thus recording the highest profits.

Del Lago is the largest among the three establishments. It consists of 1,989 slot machines, 79 table games, and 12 poker tables all found on the casino floor. The estimated revenue collected from slots amounted to $37.3 million, table games generated $13.7 million, and poker brought in $954,804. The establishment recorded its first biggest revenue in February, the same month it launched. The amount generated in the month of February was $13.5 million.

The casino is also expected to attract more customers with its launch of the hotel portion on July 1, 2017. The casino owner expects the hotel launch to boost the casino figures.

The final casino was launched on February 8. River Casino and Resort took the second spot in the total amount of revenue collected. The establishment generated revenue of $46.8 million between February 8 and May 31. The casino has a collection of 1,150 slots machines, 67 table games and 15 poker tables. $19.6 million was generated from slots machines, $14.8 million from table games, and a surprising $2.2 million for poker games, giving the River Casino the highest poker game revenue of the three. The casino collected a total of $13.6 million in the month of March, making it their best month.


The gambling industry in New York has come along despite the fact that is was illegal up until 2011. In a world that is benefiting a lot from the industry, New York has yet to experience the full benefits of the gambling industry. It is, however, a good start for the New York state commercial casino, given that it has managed to generate a revenue of $133.6 million in a span of less than six months. The gambling industry is slowly but surely taking root in upstate New York.

Nick Johnson is a lover of game theory and mathematics. After years as a quant on Wall Street, Nick stepped out of the fast lane to become a stay at home dad and write. After chasing the kids around all day and tucking his little ones in bed, Nick loves to relax playing in online Casinos and is a life-long poker enthusiast.