NY Outlook Improves With Support From Pretlow

Key New York Lawmaker Sees Opposition To Online Poker Fading, Raising Hopes For Passage This Session

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Assemblyman  Gary Pretlow appears to have decided that 2017 is the year for online poker in New York.

Pretlow, who has previously sounded skeptical notes on online poker, offered an unambiguously positive outlook for his bill to regulate the activity in an interview posted Saturday by FiOS1.

Watch the interview: part 1, part 2.

What Pretlow said about online poker

Core concerns satisfied

Pretlow’s concerns regarding online poker have focused primarily on three areas: game fairness, the efficacy of geolocation solutions, and whether poker can be characterized as a game of skill as opposed to gambling.

In his interview with FiOS’ Andrew Whitman, Pretlow said he is now “pretty satisfied that cheating isn’t going to take place” and “satisfied that geolocation works” after investigating the systems in place for operating legal online poker in New Jersey.

As for the debate over whether poker is a game of skill or a game of chance, Pretlow noted that he “had this argument when we did the fantasy sports” and that “what I have to say to get it done is what we say to get it done.”

Assembly no longer a hurdle

When asked if he thought online poker would now find sufficient support to clear a vote in the Assembly, Pretlow all but predicted the final tally:

When I do sign off on something, my colleagues feel that it is a good deal and they don’t question why I made a certain decision. They know that if that decision was made, it’s for good reason. So I don’t really see there’s going to be much opposition to moving this along.

Administration support still a question

Pretlow stopped short of predicting that his bill would become law, noting that “there are some individuals within the administration that are really opposed to this.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been largely silent on the issue.

Watch the interview: part 1, part 2.

New York’s current online poker bills

There are currently bills in both the Assembly (A5250) and the Senate (S3893) to regulate online poker. The bills are identical.

Key points include:

  • Defines poker as a game of skill.
  • Regulations to be published within 180 days of passage.
  • Authorizes up to 11 operator licenses and allows operators to partner with other companies for platforms, branding, and so on.
  • License fee of $10mm (prepayment on tax owed).
  • Tax rate of 15% on gross gaming revenue.
  • Interstate agreements facilitated.
  • Players must be at least 21.

You can contact NY lawmakers to show your support for the bills using this simple tool.

Where does NY online poker head from here?

With live bills in both chambers, there are two possible paths for New York to pass regulated online poker:

  1. Moving the bills ahead as standalone efforts.
  2. Attaching the effort to the budget process.

In either case, the calendar remains the same: New York’s 2017 legislative session is currently scheduled to end on June 21st.

What would the market for NY online poker be worth?

With a population of roughly 20 million, New York would be capable of supporting a sustainable online poker market. The state enjoys some cultural and demographic advantages that would further support a healthy market.

New York is about 2.2 times the size of New Jersey , whose online poker market pulled in $26.5 million in 2016. That suggests a market size for New York of roughly $60 million.

One could reasonably argue that a number of positive adjustments should be made to achieve a meaningful comparison between NJ online poker and NY online poker. It’s unlikely you’d be able to find a rational path to a market worth over $100 million annually, but there’s nothing absurd about a projection in the neighborhood of $75 million.

New Jersey also offers online casino games, which generate far greater revenue. New York is only seeking to regulated online poker.

Reaching agreements with states like New Jersey to share player pools would have a meaningful impact on both the size and long-term sustainability of the market.

- Chris is the publisher of OnlinePokerReport.com. Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.
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