New York Online Poker Dealt a Bad Hand with New Study Bill

New York

The prospect of regulated online poker coming to New York anytime soon looks iffy after the proposal of a new bill aimed at studying the effects of gambling.

The bill, A00591, seeks to commission a statewide evaluation regarding the extent of gambling by New York state residents. New Yorkers, it appears, rank just outside of the top 33% of states in the category of gambling addiction, according to an independent study conducted in 2018.

While that percentage is not exactly terrible, it’s apparently enough to prompt Empire State lawmakers to take a further look at the issue. The measure is being spearheaded by Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat in the New York State Assembly.

Gaining Momentum

A00591 was pre-filed on January 9, followed by a referral to the Committee on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. A vote by that committee on January 23 was unanimous at 13-0, advancing the proposal to the Ways and Means Committee.

The study, should it become law, would direct the New York State Gaming Commission to take a comprehensive look at all aspects of gambling that include horse racing, the lottery, sports betting, online gambling, poker, and the state’s casinos. Among other statistics, the legislators hope to determine the percentage of New Yorkers who gamble, as well as how much money may be lost.

The evaluation further hopes to break down the findings according to the age, sex, race, education and reported income of the gamblers. One troubling aspect regarding the language in the bill is that the study needs to be completed by December 1, 2023.

That’s more than four years down the road, an incredibly long amount of time for a state that’s been in the forefront among states with aspirations of passing online poker and gambling legislation. How could any i-gaming expansion proposals be seriously considered in New York until the evaluation has been completed and fully analyzed?

Good-bye Online Poker Bill S 18

The bill seriously dampens the prospects of S 18, an online poker bill introduced by Sen. Joseph Addabbo earlier this year, gaining any traction. S 18 calls for New York casinos desiring an online poker license to pay a $10 million fee, pay a tax rate of 15%, disallows the participation of bad actors, and permits the Empire State to join forces with other regulated states to increase player pools.

That last clause is seemingly already obsolete after the DoJ’s recent opinion stating that no wagers can cross state lines, apparently nullifying such partnerships. Sen. Addabbo’s bill was proposed prior to the release of the DoJ finding.

The New York Senate had voted favorably on online poker legislation twice in previous years, only for the measure to stall in the Assembly. Now it appears that Assembly members are preparing to delay online poker progress for a considerably longer amount of time according to the wording in Rosenthal’s proposal.

Who’s Behind the New Bill?

It certainly is commendable that New York lawmakers have an eye toward protecting their constituents who may have gambling problems. Addiction to gambling is quite serious and the matter should be addressed in any new legislation.

However, this newest bill authorizing a lengthy amount of time to evaluate the issue seems to have come out of the blue in a way that some believe may have some political wrangling behind it. Perhaps at the behest of a man with deep pockets who is totally opposed to online poker and gambling? Is Sheldon Adelson and the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling behind the latest stall tactics? Hmmm.