NY State Legislature

New York Takes Another Step Towards Legal Online Poker

New York State took a step closer to legalized and regulated online poker on Tuesday.

New York’s Senate Finance Committee voted to send a bill seeking to legalize and regulate online poker in the state to the Senate floor.

Earlier this year, the bill passed through the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering. Bill sponsor Sen. John Bonacic chairs that committee.

The bill would would permit the issue of up to eleven online poker licenses, with existing land-based gaming operations getting first crack at them. Each license would come with an up-front $10 million licensing fee. The poker sites would also be charged 15 percent of gross gaming revenues in state taxes.

What Must Happen Before Passage

Should the bill ultimately pass through the Senate, it would be sent to the State Assembly, where an identical bill was proposed earlier this year by the Assembly’s Chairman of the Committee on Racing and Wagering, J. Gary Pretlow.

Following the Senate Finance Committee vote, WRNN-TV and Verizon FiOS 1 anchor and political correspondent Andrew Whitman questioned Pretlow on the Assembly’s next move in regards to online poker legislation, posting his responses in a thread on Twitter.

Pretlow said some serious objections remain in the Assembly, not on specifics of the bill, but based on the overall idea legislators are making it too easy to gamble in New York State. This given the increase in gambling opportunities coming with the opening of three new Vegas-style commercial casinos opened over the past six months.

Timeline is Tight

Pretlow told Whitman he plans to meet with those opposed in an effort to overcome their objections. However, he noted the legislative session will wrap up at the end of June and the bill would still have to pass through at least three Assembly committees before it could be voted on.

The Committee Chairman said if there is no progress over the next three weeks, the bill will not make it to the Assembly floor this session. He also said he was unsure of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s thoughts on internet poker legislation, but was confident the Governor would get behind the plan if $100 billion in revenue from online poker was dangled in front of him. [Editor’s Note: This was likely said in error by the Assemblyman – $100 million, not billion, would make more sense, spread out over the course of several years.]

Pretlow also noted Native American Casinos presented another potential hurdle, since these casinos would not be offered online poker licenses under the currently proposed legislation.

In the end, Pretlow said they should know more in three weeks time and if there is some progress, the bill could see vote by end of June.

The senate passed a similar online poker bill in 2016 that was ignored by the Assembly.

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