New York Senate Puts Online Poker, Sports Betting In Its New Budget

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The proposed budget that came out of the New York Senate includes the legalization of both online poker and sports wagering.

The top line for online poker, sports betting

Those provisions’ inclusion in one version of the budget for NY’s next fiscal year is not necessarily a harbinger that they’re going to become law.

  • It’s the third year in a row that online poker has appeared in a similar Senate document, and the first time for sports betting.
  • Poker has never appeared in the proposed Assembly version of the state budget, and isn’t in its version this year, either.
  • Neither is in the budget of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The budgets all amount to a “wish list” of the two chambers and the executive branch, and none ever ends up becoming law in their entirety. Online poker didn’t make the cut in 2016 or 2017.

The online poker part of the budget appears to be the same legislation that passed the Senate in 2017. The sports betting provision is the same one that passed a committee vote on Tuesday.

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Handicapping poker’s chances

Will this be any different from past years for online poker, which has now been on New York’s radar for several years?

The odds would seem to say no. The Senate has passed online poker — as standalone pieces of legislation — by wide margins in each of the past two years. Neither time did it become law.

The fight appears to be on the Assembly side, which has not voted on online poker in the past. Rep. Gary Pretlow — that chamber’s gaming committee chairman — has worked on online poker legislation. But for one reason or another, he’s never advanced a bill to the full floor for a vote.

Sports betting also may not see inclusion in a final budget, either, as there is no legislation currently in the Assembly.

The deadline for a final budget is April 1, so we’ll find out relatively soon if this is the path forward for either gaming expansion in New York.

Still, the New York government is not exactly swimming in money, and both provisions could be a piece of a puzzle in generating new revenue for a state in need of it.

Does that mean online poker has a better chance in 2018 than in the past? That remains to be seen.

- 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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