Online Poker Legislation Inches Forward in New York
Online Poker Legislation Inches Forward In New York
Proposed online poker legislation passed a first Senate Committee vote earlier this week, enjoying overwhelming success with a vote of 53-5. The win was celebrated, but served as just a small step forward for the industry’s hopefuls. There is still a long and arduous journey for online poker in the state before it becomes a legalized institution.
The bill, dubbed S 3898, was proposed by State Senator John Bonacic in January. The bill received the Senate Racing, Wagering, and Gaming committee’s blessing during Tuesday’s meeting. One bit of information worth noting is the gaming committee is actually headed by none other than Bonacic himself, which raises concerns that this may be an instance of conflict of interest.
Next on the list for S 3898 is a sit down with the Senate Finance committee. Should the bill find success there, it will proceed to a vote by the full Senate. According to New York’s legislative process, the bill with then need to pass with support from a majority of the state’s senators, who in turn will pass it along to the state Assembly. Amendments may or may not follow at the behest of the state assembly, if so the bill will need to be reworked and passed by the senate for another round of consideration. The bill will then be passed to the governor’s desk; the final hurdle. There it can sit for up to 10 days before being signed into law or being vetoed outright.
Gaming from NYC to Niagara Falls
Gambling has long been a contentious issue in New York, with provisions existing for only constitutional amendments to the gaming laws on the books. This is where Senator Bonacic’s play comes into the foreground. He is not attempting to amend a law, or add a new one. He is attempting to change the definition of poker to exclude it from the current law, making the participation in online games of chance illegal in the state of New York.
Security in online gambling has been an issue for many regulators and officials in New York, particularly Assemblyman Pretlow who had a less than favorable relationship with Bonacic’s efforts on poker in the past. Pretlow feels much better about the legislation Bonacic introduced this time around and it looks like he’ll give the bill its fair share of time in the state Assembly, should it finds its way there.
Pretlow has been notoriously lenient on fantasy sports gambling, as opposed to “hard” gambling institutions like poker and casinos. Pretlow’s push for sports betting was detailed in an interview with Law360 on the matter, where he stated, “The fact of the matter it is happening now. The fact of the matter is that billions of dollars are being wagered. … A majority of those dollars are going to entities that we don’t associate ourselves with. I think that if people are doing it that it should be controlled. It should be taxed. It should be regulated. And it should be allowed.” While he doesn’t detail his motivations for leaning towards fantasy sports gambling as a legitimate practice when compared to poker, Bonacic’s new classification of poker may be enough to change Pretlow’s tune.
Several other states on the east coast have also begun revitalizing online gambling efforts, namely Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
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