New York online poker has passed Senate before, but never Assembly

Lawmaker Pushes For NY Online Poker In Letter To Assembly Speaker

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New York Assemblyman Gary Pretlow appears serious about getting an online poker bill passed next month.

Online Poker Report has obtained a letter the author of A 5250 sent with signatures from himself and 51 Democratic colleagues to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie requesting his facilitation in putting the bill to the floor for a vote.

Pretlow told OPR that Heastie putting the bill on the Assembly floor is all that stands in the way of its passage.

“To get it to the floor is all that’s needed,” Pretlow said. “He’s not going to guarantee passage, but get it to the floor and I’ll debate it and get it passed.”

Pretlow finally going all in?

Each of the past two years, the Senate has passed an online poker bill in New York only to have the Assembly fail to act. Pretlow, who chairs the Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee, was slow to come around to poker being a game of skill and always seems to have a different reason for his difficulty getting fellow Assembly members to support a bill.

It was enough to make people wonder if Pretlow really wanted online poker in the state. However, he did make a push at the end of last session by advancing the bill through his committee and appeared genuinely frustrated when he couldn’t get the bill brought to the floor.

With the letter, which was circulated for signatures in March, he’s making an early statement that there is strong support for online poker and that he intends to push for the passage of A 5250 before the New York legislative session ends June 20.

The letter contends that, with Heastie’s leadership, “the state can be provided with an additional source of revenue to aid New York’s progressive initiatives.”

No sports betting tie-in

Pretlow indicated that his long-awaited sports betting bill will be introduced next week. However, despite previous consideration, he will not be putting online poker into the legislation.

“I’m not going to attach online poker to it,” Pretlow said. “Every bill I do should stand on its own merit. I’m not trying to sneak something else in that people are opposed to.”

Pretlow does think that the expectation for a sports betting bill to pass next month – given that New York already has one sports betting law on the books and the urgency to expand its scope following the US Supreme Court ruling that opened it up for states to offer sports wagers – improves the chances for online poker.

“This will be helpful to getting online poker done,” Pretlow said of the sports betting push. “There are more people interested in pursuing sports betting than pursuing online poker. For whatever reason, people consider online poker to be gambling but don’t consider sports betting to be gambling. I’m going to show them this is all gaming, and all forms of gaming happening are related.”

He also did a recent interview on sports betting in which he expressed pessimism for online poker’s chances.

Whether 2018 is the year for NY online poker remains to be seen.

- 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 40+ state legislators. His poker writing has been cited by The Atlantic, and Matt also has written on a variety of topics for Playboy Magazine, Men's Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and
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