NY Online Poker Bill Introduced For 2019 In Senate With New Sponsor

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The prospect of online poker lives on in New York, as a bill was introduced in the state Senate once again.

Sen. Joseph Addabbo formally introduced his legislation that would legalize online poker in the state. It’s been referred to the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering. Addabbo is also a member of the committee.

Addabbo picks up the mantle of state Sen. John Bonacic. Bonacic, who retired, was chair of the gaming committee and also was a sponsor of online poker legislation. Online poker has been a topic of discussion in Albany dating back to 2013.

The bill is similar to legislation that has surfaced in the past, and it authorizes only online poker and not online casino or sports betting apps.

The state is expected to take up sports betting legislation — perhaps via the state budget — in earnest this year and the prospects of online poker passing are murky.

What’s in the new bill

Addabbo’s bill, Senate Bill 18, is straightforward. It requires all operators to pay a one time, $10 million licensing fee and implements a 15 percent tax rate on gross gaming revenue.

Additionally, the bill allows for the issuing of 11 licenses and establishes regulations for six months after the law goes into effect.

Here’s what the bill says:

“The commission shall, within one-hundred-eighty days of the date this article becomes law, promulgate regulations to implement interactive gaming in this state and shall authorize up to eleven licenses to operate interactive gaming involving authorized participants, subject to provisions of this article and other applicable provisions of law.”

Language in the bill says applicants eligible to apply are entities which are licensed to operate video lottery gaming and those which operate a Class III gaming facility.

Online poker, at a glance, in New York

This isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last that NY lawmakers have flirted with the idea of online poker.

Going back to inclusion in the state budget in 2013, the Empire State has failed to push a bill over the finish line.

The Senate was able to pass bills in 2016 (53-5), and in 2017 (54-8), as well as include it in the past three years’ budgets.

However, the appetite for online poker has been lacking on the Assembly side where no online poker bill has even made it for a vote on the Assembly floor.

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, chairman of the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, has been vocal of his support for online poker and his legislative priorities leading into the 2019 session.

In December, Pretlow told Online Poker Report he would give up his three-year crusade on passing online poker if it meant getting sports betting over the hump.

For clarification, Pretlow said it was not an either-or situation but rather, making a point on where online poker stands on his legislative agenda for 2019.

Push for sports betting

Sports betting has fueled legislative talks in statehouses across the country, and New York is no different.

However, sports betting has failed to gather the necessary support to pass both chambers last year.

At one point, Pretlow toyed with the idea of a joint sports betting/online poker bill where sports betting could “carry online poker” over the finish line.

Pretlow has changed his stance on a joint bill saying he would not want to “sneak something else in that people are opposed to.”

We have yet to see how Addabbo’s online poker bill will fare this time around. Many are viewing sports betting as the prime topic of discussion moving forward.

- Nick comes from West Texas where he graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in psychology. After a five year stint in Chicago where he wrote about local politics and graduated with a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia College Chicago, he moved to Washington, D.C. to write about issues related to gambling policy, sports betting and responsible gaming.
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