New York Assembly Introduces a New Online Poker Bill

New York

The prospects of regulating online poker in New York have become just a wee bit brighter after a new proposal was introduced in the State Assembly.

Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow, as he has done in past years, offered up a new online poker bill that calls for poker to be categorized as a game of skill rather than a game of chance. Any serious poker player will tell you that skill overrides luck in the game, but those who don’t play poker can’t seem to fathom how this can be so.

Whether New York legislators will be convinced of the skill factor required to excel in poker remains to be seen. Whether New Yorkers hoping to play regulated online poker are convinced that Pretlow’s A04924 will gain any traction also remains to be seen.

If past history tells us anything, the better bet would be that Pretlow’s proposal lands in the muck right alongside plenty of other bills that the New York State Assembly finds unpalatable.

Better Odds for Study Bill

Standing in the way of online poker legislation making headway in New York in 2019 is a previous proposal volleyed by an assembly member. Democrat Linda Rosenthal introduced a bill last month (A00591) aimed at evaluating the gambling habits of New Yorkers in order to determine how much money is being lost, complete with a breakdown on the age, race, sex, education and income of those who wager.

Whether Rosenthal’s measure finds approval among her colleagues has yet to be determined, but the odds are favorable that A00591 gets a better look-see than Pretlow’s online poker bill. Pretlow hasn’t pushed very hard for his i-poker legislation in past years and 2019 may be more of the same.

Companion Online Poker Bills

Pretlow’s proposal matches up with an online poker bill introduced in the New York Senate last month by Sen. Joseph Addabbo (S 18). The Senate has twice mustered up enough aye votes to advance online poker regulation in past years, but lackadaisical interest in the Assembly stopped any further advancement.

A04924 mimics S 18 with regard to particulars that include a $10 million license fee assessed on operators and a 15% tax on gross gaming revenue. The bill was sent to the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee.

Long Road Ahead

The reasoning behind proposing online poker measures as standalone bills and without the broader inclusion of online casino games is that poker can be classified as a skill game while casino games cannot. New York statutes are worded as such that non-skilled online gambling legislation would most likely necessitate the state’s constitution to be amended.

That’s a long, drawn out process that may require New Yorkers to first vote on the issue in a referendum. It would likely take years going down that road.

However, should Rosenthal’s bill to evaluate the effects of gambling win out, that would also likely take years of research and study. That proposal is currently before the Ways and Means Committee.

Whichever way the dice end up being thrown with regard to regulated online poker in New York, a favorable outcome for New York online poker players is not going to happen anytime soon.

 

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