NY Online Poker Bill Now Faces Finance Committee

New York Online Poker Bill Passes Committee Vote For First Time Ever

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New York passed an online poker bill out of a committee hearing for the first time since the topic of iGaming regulation was introduced in 2013.

Bills have been introduced in recent years to regulate online poker in the state, but this is the first time any such legislation has progressed past its initial introduction.

Tuesday’s hearing and online poker

The bill — S5302B — didn’t spend much time being considered in Tuesday’s committee, which briefly touched on several bills and reported them out of committee. The entire hearing only lasted four minutes.

A vote did not take place publicly during the hearing, but the committee’s website shows the bill passing by a vote of 9-0.

Sen. John Bonacic, the sponsor of the bill and the chairman of the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, offered a brief statement on the milestone for the legislation:

“S.5302-B took a necessary step forward today with its vote out of the Racing Committee. The Bill now goes to the Finance Committee and I anticipate having ongoing discussions with my colleagues in both Houses regarding this bill as session moves forward.”

The bill moves on the Senate Finance Committee; a hearing for the bill in that committee has not yet been scheduled.

Quick progress for online poker bill

The online poker legislation, which hadn’t really been on the radar in New York in recent months, ramped up quickly in recent weeks.

Bonacic’s bill was resurrected from last session and a matching bill appeared in the House, from gaming committee chairman J. Gary Pretlow.

The recent actions and Tuesday’s vote represent what appears to be real momentum for online poker in the Empire State.

John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance offered this statement after the vote:

“The PPA thanks Chairman John Bonacic and the Committee for acting quickly to pass iPoker legislation through the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering. If passed into law, the bill would provide New Yorkers who play poker online with a safe and regulated environment, while bringing in revenue for the state. We encourage the Finance Committee to move quickly to usher the legislation through the Senate, and also urge the Assembly to move forward with their respective legislation.”

What’s next?

Online poker is officially in uncharted waters in New York, but the lack of “no” votes seems to be a good sign for the legislation.

A recent Gambling Compliance report (paywall) indicated that Pretlow may pump the brakes on progress — or at least implementation — of iPoker until the state’s new commercial casinos are up and running.

Pappas offered an argument slowing down on the bill:

“It would be a mistake for New York to wait for its brick-and-mortar casinos to go online. Moving Internet poker legislation now would establish an existing customer base of poker players for brick-and-mortar casinos when they open their doors for business,” Pappas said.

- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about poker since 2008.
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