Senate Committee Vote Offers Ray of Hope for New York Online Poker Effort

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(L-R): Senator John J. Bonacic and Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow announce New York Senate Committee passes Online Poker Bill by an 11-0 unanimous vote.

CasinoNewsDaily Reporter Terry Davis.

ALBANY, NY — May 10, 2017 — An online poker bill will be considered in the New York State Senate, after it passed its final committee hurdle on Tuesday. Introduced in January, S 3898 calls for the legalization of online poker as a game of skill.

Members of the Senate’s Finance Committee passed the proposed legislation on Tuesday without any preceding debates. Earlier this year, the Senate’s Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee voted unanimously in favor of the bill. Here it is important to note that the latter Committee is chaired by the legislative piece’s sponsor – Sen. John Bonacic.

Sen. Bonacic has led the online poker effort in the state for several years now. But it is believed that the push has greater chances to succeed by the end of the year than anytime before. In 2016, a very similar bill was introduced to the state Legislature by Sen. Bonacic again. The piece was approved overwhelmingly in the Senate, but never made it to Assembly consideration.

The failure of last year’s push could to a great extent be blamed on Assemblyman Gary Pretlow’s indecision over the matter. The legislator, who has been chairing the Assembly Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee for several years now, pointed out last summer that the online poker bill would not get enough support from the Assembly.
Assemblyman Pretlow also voiced concerns in relation to poker’s status as a game of skill and not one whose outcome depends strongly on chance. The prevention of cheating and of ineligible players from playing at licensed New York-facing websites was another matter of concern presented by the key lawmaker.

Earlier this year, Assemblyman Pretlow produced an Assembly equivalent of Sen. Bonacic’s bill.

Both legislative pieces call for the legalization of certain online poker games – Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hold’em. The language of the bills also suggests that poker is perceived as a game of skill. That latter provision is a necessity in order for a regulated online poker market to be created in the state.

If poker is considered a game of luck, this would mean that the proposed legislations call for gambling expansion. And any form of gambling expansion is prohibited within the state’s borders, under its Constitution.

In March, S 3898 was tacked onto New York’s budget but plans for the effort to be considered during budget talks were scrapped quickly. Lawmakers indicated that they preferred discussing online poker as a standalone matter.

The Senate bill still has quite a lot of legislative hurdles to overcome, but many believe that it has gained the necessary legislative support to be passed this year. If the bill is signed into law, interested online poker operators will be able to apply for a license from the New York State Gaming Commission. New York-facing operators will be taxed at 15% on gross revenue, with the money being contributed to the state’s coffers.


Terry Davis holds a degree in Psychology, but it was after his graduation that he found his real passion – writing. He writes for CasinoNewsDaily, having previously worked for a local news magazine. CasinoNewsDaily is a media focused on providing daily news from the casino industry as well as in-depth gaming guides. Their guides cover roulette, blackjack, slots and video poker.

eHeziSenate Committee Vote Offers Ray of Hope for New York Online Poker Effort

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