NY online poker bill will not start from scratch in 2018
Online Poker Report

New York Online Poker Bill: Only Mostly Dead, But Still Alive For 2018

Dead NY online poker bill

The New York legislature may still return this year to address mayoral control of New York City schools, but Assemblymember J. Gary Pretlow doesn’t expect a special session would create an opening for online poker.

A Pretlow representative tells Online Poker Report that the assemblymember is resolved to fight for online poker’s passage next year.

Late hope never materialized

The bill to authorize online poker passed in the Senate on June 13, and was advanced by Pretlow through his Racing, Wagering and Gaming Committee two days later.

Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that Assembly leadership wasn’t ready to put the legislation on the governor’s desk.

However, everything in the New York legislature is up for negotiation. The key issue at the end of the session was whether or not lawmakers would extend mayoral oversight of NYC schools, which is set to expire on June 30.

There are many proponents to the centralized control of city schools, which was enacted in 2002 and renewed periodically since, but there are others who would like to see control revert back to local school boards. Polls show New Yorkers opposed mayoral control by wide margins.

The Assembly favored another extension, while the Senate wanted to let the policy end. This impasse had the potential to create an opportunity for online poker.

If Senate leadership was willing to accept an extension, they could ask Assembly members for policies they wanted in return, and the Senate had passed the online poker bill twice only to have it stall in the Assembly.

Since lawmakers didn’t agree on the extension, online poker didn’t get its opening.

While the legislative session concluded June 21, there is talk that there might still be a special session called to keep the 15-year policy of mayoral control going. Gov. Andrew Cuomo might call for such a session to start as soon as Wednesday.

Even if that is the case, Pretlow’s office indicated to OPR that poker won’t be part of the discussion.

Legislation could come up earlier next year

There’s a maddening habit for the New York legislature in which nothing happens until the final weeks of the session, when lawmakers suddenly consider a thousand bills as if they just came to their attention. Even for a bill such as online poker that it had passed in 2016, the Senate waited until June to pass it again and put pressure on the Assembly.

Pretlow expressed that he intends to buck tradition and look at online poker in the early part of next session, which begins in January.

No need to start from beginning

Pretlow indicated that the bill could be addressed earlier in the session because New York has adopted a carry-over policy for bills in a legislative term.

This means that Pretlow and Sen. John Bonacic won’t have to introduce new online poker bills. Their bills from 2017 – S 3898 and A 5250 – will automatically carry over to the second year of the legislative session.

Not only does this avoid there being an introductory period for the bills, but it lets them start where they left off, according to Pretlow. For the Assembly, this means the bill will begin the year in the Codes Committee, still needing to pass through Ways and Means, then Rules to get on the Assembly floor.

The Senate will start on the Senate floor, though it will need to be voted on again.

“Part of the reason nothing happens in the early part of the session is we have to get committees up and running again and start from scratch,” Pretlow said. “That will not be the case here. I hope to address the bill in February.”

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Matthew Kredell
- Matthew began writing about legislative efforts to regulate online poker in 2007 after UIGEA interfered with his hobby of playing small-stakes online poker while working as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News. Covering the topic for Bluff Magazine, PokerNews and now Online Poker Report, he has interviewed four U.S. Congressmen and 14 state legislators. A freelance writer based in Los Angeles, Matt has written on a variety of topics for Playboy Magazine, Men's Journal, Los Angeles magazine and ESPN.com.