New York Steps up Online Poker Efforts

While Pennsylvania and California legislators cannot seem to iron out the details of online poker legislation within their state, New York has stepped up their efforts to see the option legalized within their borders. The legislators of New York will be hosting an exploratory hearing on the 9th of September to discuss the merits of online poker gaming.

John BonacicState Senator John Bonacic is the driving force behind the hearing and is also the author of the online poker legislation S 5302. This bill is the latest to be introduced in the state but is a little late to the party. There is not enough push to see the bill pass this year, but the holding of the hearing is a pivotal point to get the ball rolling in the state in regards to online poker.

Bonacic plans on using the hearing to convince the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee to begin to look seriously at passing legislation for online poker in 2016. Bonacic is the chairman of this group and has also invited representatives of casinos, betting parlors and racinos to be in attendance. These invited guests would have the opportunity to discuss online gaming and how it would affect the state, both in the positive and negative.

Adding to his list of support, Bonacic has asked for representatives of MGM Resorts as well as Caesars Entertainment to be in attendance. Each of these gaming companies are involved in online gambling in New Jersey, which is of course, legalized and regulated.

While New York is taking strides in the positive, both Pennsylvania and California seem to be slipping further and further behind in trying to pass legislation for online poker gaming. In Pennsylvania, government officials cannot seem to agree on bill terms, especially the tax rate. A rate for as much as 54% has been included in one bill, which is ridiculously high for operators to have to meet in order to provide gaming options.

In California, the tribes, race tracks and card rooms, plus legislators cannot seem to agree on who should be involved or if bad actor clauses should be included. California has been struggling for many months to come to some sort of consensus between the invested parties. Race tracks want to be involved while some tribes want them to be excluded. Certain tribes have offered race tracks an affiliation which would pay some benefit to the tracks but the officials of the track want to be all-in and included.

With the bad actor clauses, some parties are for while others are against. Those already partnered with PokerStars do not want to see bad actor included in legislation as the operator would not be able to work in the state. Without the inclusion of this clause, PokerStars would be free to offer services in California. The bad actor clause is basically a carve-out which states that anyone who operated after the UIGEA of 2006 is to be excluded, which would include PokerStars.

Some legislators have even went so far as to state that they will not be moving forward with any legislation until the tribes, card rooms and race tracks can come to a consensus, which seems unlikely. So for now, both California and Pennsylvania are at a standstill for very different reasons. It will be interesting to see if both states will be able to move forward or if New York will sneak in and take the next position as the latest state to offer online poker gaming.