New York State Senator Bonacic Sounds A Positive Note On Regulated Online Poker
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Key New York Senator Sees Path For Online Poker, Says “All Of The Gaming Interests Want It”

Bonacic online poker bill NY chances
In an interview with Time Warner Cable News on Monday, New York State Senator John Bonacic turned some heads when he emphatically said online poker had a better chance to pass in 2016 than daily fantasy sports.

Bonacic’s remarks come on the heels of the Senate Finance Committee passing his online poker bill, S5302, last week, setting the bill up for a possible vote on the Senate floor.

In addition to making the consumer protection argument – pointing out that illegal online gambling is already available in New York, “so why not regulate it?” – Bonacic gave TWCN three reasons why he felt online poker had a better chance of passing in 2016:

  1. All of the state’s casinos and racinos are in favor of online poker legalization.
  2. Online poker generates far more revenue than DFS.
  3. The bill is better positioned, with no real obstacles or poison pills, to pass this session.

Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Consensus agreement among stakeholders

When asked why he thought online poker had a better chance of passage than DFS Bonacic said, “All of the gaming interests want it.”

Bonacic indicated the online poker bill has unanimous support, as all nine of New York’s racinos, as well as the commercial casinos that are currently under construction, have sent letters of support to the legislature for online poker.

On the other hand, several interests are opposed to daily fantasy sports.

DFS revenue is inconsequential

According to Bonacic, the legalization and regulation of DFS would generate between $3 million and $5 million in revenue for the state of New York on an annual basis.

Furthermore, when asked by the interviewer why DFS revenue wasn’t earmarked for education (as is the case for other forms of gambling in New York) Bonacic indicated the number was too small be trifled with, and said it would simply go into the general fund.

“Right now, we thought it was too small to be concerned about it,” Bonacic said.

On the other hand, online poker would not only result initial licensing and registration fees of $110 million, but a further $33 million to $45 million in yearly tax revenue to the state – based on the 15 percent tax rate in the S5302.

This money would be earmarked for education, according to Bonacic, and the education earmark will likely make online poker a bit more palatable to some lawmakers.

Online poker bill is ready to be voted on and passed

Bonacic called online poker “more settled,” pointing out there are identical bills in both chambers (the DFS bills have several differences, including if DFS is classified as a game of skill, something Bonacic dubbed a nonstarter).

The Senate version has already passed the Racing and Finance committees, and is now awaiting a vote on the Senate floor.

Bonacic went on to say that DFS is less settled. “There’s still a lot of arguments being thrown at the bill,” and DFS needs to get through a lot of “smoke” before a bill can be passed.


Even though New York’s online poker bill was effectively left for dead just a month ago, momentum is on its side, and the comments from Senator Bonacic will certainly add fuel to the fire.

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Steve Ruddock
- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.