Industry Reports

Has the Time Come for New York to Welcome Legalized Online Poker?

New York is on the verge of major changes in its gaming field, as this year is dedicated to the introduction and consideration of essential bills reshaping the states gambling image. Online poker is one of the potential new offerings that could receive green light this year, but would this really happen in an environment where sports betting would be unable to offer online and mobile wagering to its players?

For the past nearly a year the state has been preparing for the moment when it will introduce its very own set of regulations overseeing the sports wagering field. New York lawmakers had the time to think through what would be truly beneficial for the state while keeping a close eye on neighboring states greenlighting their own sports wagering bills. The beginning of this year brought actions, as the sports betting and online poker bills were brought up to the attention of the Senate.

Online Poker Competes with Sports Betting

Senator Joseph Addabbo sponsored the special SB 18 bill that aims to grant 11 online operators with a license for operation within the borders of the state. Each license for operation would cost $10 million, coming with a 15-percent tax on the gross gaming revenue generated. What should be pointed out is that the first 60 days of online poker operation under the proposed regulation would be tax-free for the entities, giving them a head start.

Tribal operators and private businesses could also apply for one of the 11 licenses for operation that would grant them a decade of online poker operation in New York. The only operators which would not be allowed into the application process are the ones who continued operation in direct breach of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. In the weeks since the introduction, opinions have been swirling around, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow expressing his position as well.

He stated that if a choice has to be made, sports betting would prevail, because of the higher revenue projections and the general interest people have towards the offering. Experts are concerned whether or not New York is ready to welcome both wagering on sports events in brick-and-mortar locations and online poker available everywhere. Evaluations and weighing on the bill would happen in the foreseeable future.

Other Bills Could Get in the Way

Only recently Mr. Pretlow introduced the second part of this online poker legislation also referred to as A 4924. Just as the bill introduced in January, this one would seek to classify poker as a game of skill instead of a game of chance. This is going to make redundant the previously considered amendment to the New York State constitution and therefore make the process much faster and hassle-free. The amendment would need public consultation, extending the time before launch too.

What is new about the second online poker bill introduced this year is the additional language that facilitates New York’s future collaboration with other states offering regulated online poker. Such interstate compacts would diversify offerings available and increase the overall appeal of the field. New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware operate in such compact for collaboration. It should be noted that mid-January the Department of Justice reversed its position on the Wire Act of 1961 which could make future compacts impossible.

Now prognosis state that the bill might not achieve the approval of the Assembly, even though it might have the Senate’s support. Over the span of a nearly decade, he has been involved in bills of similar nature, but none of them saw the light of day. Furthermore, Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal recently supported the bill that would look into the overall popularity of gambling on a state level. It could get in the way of online gaming launch in the upcoming years.