An online poker bill was introduced in New York just a few days ago by Senator John Bonacic known as S 3893. This measure was proposed in January and now, in February, another bill has been proposed, this time by Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow. The new bill is known as A 5250 and would also legalize online poker as well as regulate the activity. Both bills are basically the exact same and would see the option considered in the Assembly and the Senate.
Getting to Work
Both lawmakers are at the head of the Racing, Gaming and Wagering committees in the respective chambers and this could help see the legislation move forward. The state seems to be lining up to offer online poker gaming in the near future. In 2016, legislature did not seem to be ready to act so proponents are hoping that for 2017, lawmakers will be ready to move forward with legislation.
In 2016, the Senate passed a poker bill that was introduced by Bonacic by a vote of 53 to 5. However, the bill was never brought up within the Assembly. Pretlow was actually the individual who declared the bill dead in the Assembly. During this time, the Assemblyman stated that the inaction was due to not enough votes in place for the bill. He was also apparently not ready for online poker as he had worries about the state entering the industry.
Both lawmakers were not on the same page when it came to online poker gaming last year. Pretlow stated last year that it was difficult to consider the game one of skill when considering the wagering structure of poker. Pretlow stated that he found poker to be gambling as if you are betting and you raise the bet, you are gambling.
Bonacic came back with his own interpretation after Pretlow made his comments stating that the best hand does not always win and it does not happen unless it is a game of skill. Bonacic felt that Pretlow was not straight forward with him as he never said what he told the press, only stating that he may not move the bill.
Pretlow eventually went to New Jersey and reviewed the online poker gaming industry in the state to get a sense of what was on offer and how the industry actually works. After looking at the industry, he apparently was able to decide that online poker should move forward and decided to work with Bonacic and create the legislation similar to his.
Looking at Both Bills
Both bills have the power to legalize and regulate online poker gaming in New York via the New York State Gaming Commission. The action taken to legalize the industry would be the same as was taken to create daily fantasy sports legalization in 2016. The game was classified as one of skill and the same would be done for poker.
The state would be open to online poker agreements with other states which would include Delaware and Nevada. Both of these states already work together in regards to online poker gaming. Baseline regulations would be created and the gaming commission would be in charge of setting the remainder of the regulations.
As many as 11 online poker licenses would be made available in the state with currently licensed operators in the video lottery gaming industry having the ability to obtain licensing. Licensing would also be open to Class III gaming operators who operate land based venues and have licensing to do so in the state.