New York citizens hopeful that their legislature would pass a bill in 2018 that allows for regulated online poker will have to pin those hopes on 2019 as this year’s legislative session came to a close without such a measure finding approval in both the Senate and the Assembly.
The last day to consider legislation came and went on June 20, marking another year of discussions and progress toward i-poker regulation that eventually fell by the wayside. While there is always the chance that a special session will be called in order to address the issue, that possibility doesn’t seem likely and it appears that another six months will go by before New York lawmakers will convene again.
If there’s a bright spot to be gleaned from the failure to move forward with online poker regulation in New York, it comes in the form of sports betting. With states now able to offer wagering on sports in light of a US Supreme Court ruling just months ago, we may see New York legislators eventually propose a bill that combines online poker with sports bets.
Other States Push Forward
The neighboring states of New Jersey and Delaware have already rolled out sports betting regimes. West Virginia and Pennsylvania won’t be far behind, according to numerous reports. If New York lawmakers continue sitting on their hands, revenue will be lost as New Yorkers will take their sports betting action to other states.
Combining online poker with sports betting in the same bill was discussed by New York legislators previously this year. Poker players can only hope that similar discussions will take place again in 2019 because online poker’s biggest supporter in New York, Senator John Bonacic, has announced his retirement.
Bonacic pushed for i-poker regulations for the past three years and had the support of his fellow Senators. It was in the Assembly that progress stalled, despite the efforts of Assemblyman Clyde Vanel, who was able to get the backing of dozens of his colleagues – which may bode well for next year depending upon the results of the upcoming elections in November.
When 2018 began, New York was at the top of the list of potential states that could join the online poker party. That party remains rather small with only Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania the only states to advance regulations since given the right to do so following a 2011 ruling by the US Department of Justice.
When 2019 begins, Bonacic will no longer be championing the cause. Let’s hope his work on i-poker the last few years wasn’t in vain and that the online poker bill that he moved through the full Senate is once again made relevant.
The best scenario is that the next six months will see online poker supporters in New York craft a new proposal for 2019. Coupling the measure with sports betting would improve online poker’s chances, so hopefully lawmakers will make it happen.