Online Poker Moves Forward in New York

One of several states considering legalization of online gaming in the United States, New York seems poised to possibly be one of the next states to pass online poker regulations and license operators to offer services within their borders. Two bills have been proposed in the state that would see online poker offered to players via licensed gambling entities and technology providers.

Earlier this week, a Senate Committee heard the measure and voted to pass the bill created by Senator John Bonacic on to the next phase of legislature. The bill, S 3898, was introduced by the Senator back in January and has already been able to see progress. On Tuesday, the Senate Racing, Wagering, and Gaming Committee discussed the measure, a committee that is chaired by Bonacic. The committee voted 11-0 in favor of the measure. The bill now moves on to the Senate Finance Committee where if it has enough support, will then move on to a full vote in the Senate.

Under current law in the state, any introduced bill has to be voted on by the majority of the legislators in the Senate to be able to move on to the Assembly. The members of the Assembly will then have to approve the measure without making any amendments or proposed changes to the bill. If the bill is approved without any amendments added, then the governor will be reviewing the measure and signing into law if in approval. If amendments are suggested, the bill goes back to the Senate for approval.

If Bonacic’s bill goes to the Governor, it can be signed into law or vetoed. The governor would have ten days to make his decision. If he does not make a decision either way within the designated time frame, then the bill will become law automatically. So for now, the measure has a ways to go before it can even become law.

One problem with the new legislation is that the expansion of gambling is a tricky subject for the state. The law currently allows only amendments to the constitution to provide an expansion of gambling. Because of this, Bonacic’s bill looks to reclassify poker as a game of skill rather than one of chance. This would allow the state to essentially go around the need to create a constitutional amendment.

The bill proposes that a change in definition in regards to the word poker be made so that the outcome is defined by the skill of the player rather than luck. This way, the changes could be made without having to consider the change an actual expansion of gambling.

An identical measure has been introduced within the Assembly as a partner measure to Bonacic’s bill by Assemblyman Gary Pretlow. The two have worked together in the past to create legislation in the hopes of seeing online poker come to pass in the state. They have butted heads on how it should be done in the past but seem to be on the same track as of late with their two matching proposals.

For now, fans of poker will have to wait and see what will happen in regards to both online poker measures. Each bill has a long way to go before it can even reach the Governor’s desk, but the recent movement in the Senate shows promise that lawmakers are interested in using the online poker industry as a way to bring in additional funds to the state, along with protecting the consumers who take part in online poker gaming already. Legalization along with regulation would help the players in the state feel secure when enjoying online poker gaming.