Assemblymember Pretlow Set To Spearhead New Online Poker Effort

New York Online Poker Bill Set To Reemerge, Timeline And Outlook Remain Unclear

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A strong push for legal New York online poker in 2016 will reemerge in 2017, according to recent chatter in the state.

The backstory on NY online poker

Legislation to regulate online poker had surfaced several times in recent years, but it hadn’t gone anywhere until 2016. That’s when a bill passed the state Senate by a lop-sided margin in June.

That bill from Sen. John Bonacic passed 53-5; however, almost immediately afterward another lawmaker — Rep. J. Gary Pretlowcalled the effort dead in the Assembly.

And that was that for New York online poker in 2016.

The legislature did pass legislation dealing with daily fantasy sports at the 11th hour, a bill that was eventually signed into law.

What’s cooking in 2017 for NY online poker?

According to GamblingCompliance (paywall), iPoker legislation will be introduced once again.

This time, it appears that it will get more support from Pretlow, who chairs the Assembly committee that deals with gambling issues.

Pretlow told GC he met with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement on iGaming, and he came away feeling good about security issues. The ability of online poker operators and state regulators being able to stop collusion and related issues regarding player security had been a concern of Pretlow’s as recently as late last year.

With Bonacic fully on board and easily getting his bill through the upper chamber, the onus appears to be on Pretlow to decide whether he wants to advance online poker in a meaningful way.

The report comes as a number of other states – most notably Pennsylvania and Massachusetts – are also reviving efforts to regulate online gambling.

Sports betting also on Pretlow’s agenda

Pretlow also has designs on passing a bill to legalize sports betting in New York, one that would create a challenge to federal law. New Jersey is currently fighting the law — PASPA — that prevents single-game wagering outside of Nevada.

In an interview with Law360, Pretlow talked about the reasons behind his push for sports betting.

“The fact of the matter it is happening now. The fact of the matter is that billions of dollars are being wagered. … A majority of those dollars are going to entities that we don’t associate ourselves with. I think that if people are doing it that it should be controlled. It should be taxed. It should be regulated. And it should be allowed.”

That’s an interesting argument, because it’s also a constant refrain for supporters of legal online poker and gambling. Will Pretlow leverage the same concerns for the iGaming industry to support a poker bill?

Pretlow could finally be 100 percent on board with online poker in 2017, and help push it the finish line. But the proof will be in his actions when online poker is actually on the agenda.

- 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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