New York Poker Is Growing, But Online Gambling Remains At A Standstill

Written By Jessica Welman on May 19, 2017 - Last Updated on February 6, 2023
traffic jam outside New York City

[toc]If you’re looking for some live poker in New York next week, look no further than Schenectady. Rivers Casino hopes to make an impact on the casino poker scene with a big guarantee poker event from May 24-27.

If you’re looking for some online poker in New York in the near future, drive to New Jersey. Even though the online casino bill is making progress in the state legislature, lawmakers continue to be wishy-washy about whether or not they want to actively pursue the issue.

And if you’re looking for a response from Gov. Andrew Cuomo about the latest scandal involving ex-Amaya CEO David Baazov? So is the Buffalo News.

Here is more on all those stories in the roundup of top gambling news from the Empire State:

NY legislature being fickle about online casinos

The good news for New York online casino enthusiasts is that this year’s online gambling legislation made it out of committee and on to the Senate earlier this month.

The bad news is the bill is now at the mercy of lawmakers whose feelings about regulated online gaming can run very hot and cold. It looked like things were moving forward when longtime online casino critic Assemblyman Gary Pretlow changed his tune. He visited New Jersey, saw regulation in action, and emerged convinced the state was protecting against underage and problem gambling.

Now though, Pretlow is voicing a whole new list of concerns, namely that introducing online casinos so quickly after brick and mortar expansion might make gambling in New York too easy.

Of course, cannibalization of land-based casinos keeps getting mentioned too. Yes, the new casinos in the state are still in their infancy. However, Pretlow hopefully noticed in his New Jersey visit that online casinos are helping land-based casinos generate more revenue, not hurting their businesses.

Rivers Casino hosting $100K guaranteed poker event

Most players consider Turning Stone to be the best place for live poker of the New York casinos. Rivers Casino Schenectady is ready to challenge that title though.

The casino is hosting a standalone poker tournament with a $100,000 guaranteed prize pool. The Capital Region Classic runs from May 24-27. There are multiple starting flights as well as different points players can buy-in to the tournament.

Those looking for bang for their buck can sign up for Day 1 for $260. The event features unlimited re-entry too, so if you bust, you can always try again.

For those looking for a smaller time commitment, players can also buy-in on Day 2. Players put up $1,100 and get 100,000 starting chips (a Day 1 starting stack is 25,000).

This is the first major poker series for the newly opened property. Rush Street owns the property as well as the tournament series Poker Night in America. Instead of partnering with the existing poker brand, the casino is going alone for the event. It will be offering its own in-house tournament coverage to bring attention to the tournament.

Cuomo staying silent on Baazov issue

There is not much news related to last week’s revelation that ex-Amaya CEO David Baazov likely contributed $388,000 in illegal political donations to New York political operative Steve Pigeon.

If anything, the lack of news is becoming newsworthy. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is allegedly part of the scandal too. According to court documents, Baazov donated $25,000 to Cuomo’s 2014 re-election campaign. As a Canadian citizen, Baazov is not allowed to contribute financially to US elections.

Cuomo’s office denied wrongdoing in a statement. Beyond that though, Cuomo is not talking. The Buffalo News recently published a piece airing the paper’s frustrations about Cuomo’s silence.

The paper repeatedly tried to reach Cuomo or a representative for comment to no avail. So, the paper published the list of questions staffers want Cuomo to address instead.

Photo by Alina Sun /

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Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman is a longtime member of the poker media. She has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the Managing Editor for A graduate of the University of Southern California and Indiana University, Welman is not only a writer but also a producer. She has been involved for livestreams for the WSOP and WPT and worked as a consultant on many other poker productions. She can be found on Twitter @jesswelman.

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