US Poker Bills Introduced in Kentucky, New York

US poker bills introduced in Kentucky and New York are encouraging signs to players who hope these are the latest steps toward legalizing online play.

In Kentucky, the state’s first-ever bill looking to introduce online poker was filed by Republican Representative Adam Koenig along with 14 co-sponsors. The bill, numbered HB175, would legalize online poker and sports betting in the state of Kentucky with regulatory authority falling to the state lottery commission.

Under the bill online poker would become legal for anyone in the state aged 18 or older. All online poker revenue would be taxed at 6.75 per cent.

Sports betting would have two different tax rates. Any revenue from in-person betting would be taxed at 10.25 per cent, while online revenue would be taxed at 14.25 per cent. Sports betting operators would also have to pay $1 million for a sports betting license.

Can US poker bills succeed where sports betting bills failed?

While this is the first online poker bill to be filed in Kentucky, a sports betting bill failed to pass last year. How this new bill will fare in Kentucky is questionable due to Kentucky’s odd relationship with gambling. The state has had a staunch anti-gambling past despite hosting one of the most popular horse races for bettors, the Kentucky Derby and horse betting being legal in the state since 1783.

In New York, a second online poker bill was introduced late last week in the House of Assembly. It follows an online poker bill that was introduced in the State Senate earlier this year.

The original Senate bill was introduced by Democratic Senator Joseph Addabbo and known as SB18. The new bill, A4924 was filed in the House by Democratic Assemblyman and chairman of the Committee on Racing and Wagering, Gary Pretlow.

Would US poker sites like Pokerstars be allowed?

Both bills are similar except for one key difference. The bill introduced by Addabbo included a bad actor clause which could keep major online poker companies like PokerStars out of the New York industry. Pretlow’s bill left out any mention of a bad actor clause.

The key similarity of the bill includes both calling for a reclassification of poker as a game of skill instead of a game of chance. This would allow online poker to become legal without any changes being made to the state constitution.

Pretlow’s bill also included language that would allow for future interstate compacts to share player liquidity. This is interesting as the reversal of the wire act decision earlier this year by the Department of Justice threw the future of these kind of compacts into questions