Inclusion In Budget Could Be Good Omen For US Online Poker

Online Poker Regulation Part Of New York Senate Budget Bill

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New York’s Senate has included language that would regulate online poker in its overarching budget bill, the latest signal that internet gaming is getting a serious push in the Empire State.

Online poker and the budget in NY

The majority in the New York Senate is supporting a budget plan that allows for the regulation of online poker.

From Senate Resolution No. R4330:

PART FFF – The Senate advances language to authorize and regulate On-Line Poker.

The resolution refers to the actual budget — S6409B — which includes the full language of the online poker bill introduced by Senate Racing and Wagering Committee Chairman John Bonacic. That bill is S5302B.

The poker-only bill passed a committee vote in February, but not much has happened since, at least publicly.

The regulation of daily fantasy sports is also included in the budget plan.

What are iPoker’s chances in the NY budget

The inclusion of online poker in the budget is a sign that at least some politicians in New York are high on online poker for the current legislative session.

But online poker has been on the agenda of the legislature before, with very little progress being made. The latest effort at regulation started in January, when a House version of an online poker bill came via Rep. J. Gary Pretlow.

Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas managed expectations for online poker’s chances in the budget:

“The budget in New York is not an easy process to handicap. It’s encouraging to see iPoker included, but we’ve been in this position before and came up short,” Pappas told Online Poker Report.

“There is a broader support for iPoker today than ever before from both the industry and politicians. As the budget unfolds we are encouraging New York poker players to do their part and contact lawmakers to express support.”

New York joins California and Pennsylvania as states in the conversation around legal US online poker.

A broader look at the budget process in New York

The state budget is due in less than two weeks, as the state’s fiscal year begins in April. That means if online poker is going to be a part of the final budget, we’re likely to find out soon.

The budget isn’t terribly close to being a finished product, per Newsday:

The start of the fiscal year is less than two weeks away, yet the governor and the State Legislature have made little tangible progress toward settling what’s likely to be a spending plan of $154 billion or more for fiscal 2016-17. In Albany time, two weeks are plenty to finish negotiations. But clearly there are significant issues to resolve.

Online poker will not be a huge part of the revenue plan to fund the budget — although licensing fees, in the current version of the bill, are $10 million per registrant.

The bigger issue will be if everyone in the state is on board with an expansion of online gambling, rather than using it as a significant funding mechanism for the government.

Regardless, this has to be seen as a positive development for online poker in New York.

- 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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