Online Poker Bill Introduced in New York

New YorkThe new year begins with New York lawmakers again contemplating online poker legislation as a bill was recently introduced in the Senate.

This marks the sixth year that the Empire State has toyed with approving internet poker. Leading the push is Sen. Joseph Addabbo, who has apparently taken the reins from Republican Sen. John Bonacic, the latter no longer in office after retiring prior to the start of 2019.

Whether this year will be any different on the online poker regulation front than the five years before it remains to be seen. The New York Senate passed online poker bills a couple of times previously, but the Assembly has yet to green light such a measure.

Sports Betting Bill Also Introduced

Sen. Addabbo has also authored a sports betting bill apart from the i-poker proposal. It’s conceivable that sports betting legislation can find eventual approval while the online poker bill does not. The odds of the reverse happening and online poker getting the go ahead are said to be quite slim as sports betting revenue is expected to dwarf that of poker.

Of course, New York lawmakers could pass both bills, which is the outcome that many of the state’s poker players and gamblers are rooting for. Introducing sports betting and poker in separate bills lessens the odds of that happening, but at the same time it keeps one proposal from getting bogged down by the constraints of the other.

Poker Bill Details

The online poker proposal, S 18, allows New York tribes and commercial casinos to obtain licenses, with each license accompanied by a fee of $10 million. The maximum number of licenses to be granted is 11.

Online poker operators are subject to a 15% tax rate on gross gaming revenue. Proceeds will ultimately go toward public schools after first being collected by the New York State Lottery.

The bill includes bad actor language designed to penalize gaming operators who continued to service the US market following passage of the UIGEA in 2006. That could preclude PokerStars from participating via a partnership with a state casino, but it isn’t an absolute certainty. The New York State Gaming Commission has discretionary powers in that regard.

Join the Party

There is a provision in S 18 that permits New York to partner up with other regulated states to increase liquidity. At the moment, those states are Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, with Pennsylvania expected to enter the fray this year.

New York, however, could possibly go it alone and find success apart from the others. The Empire State ranks as the fourth most populous among all 50 states with almost 20 million residents.

New Jersey (9 million), Nevada (3 million), and Delaware (970,000) are not even in the same ballpark. Pennsylvania is right behind New York in 5th place population-wise, yet still quite a ways off at nearly 13 million.

Sen. Addabbo’s bill is before the Senate’s Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee. The Democratic senator will likely push for passage by citing not only potential revenue numbers, but also pointing out that regulation protects consumers from offshore poker sites that are unregulated by any US governmental agencies.