New York Assemblyman Gary Pretlow Calls for Legalized Online Poker

Posted on July 27th, 2015 by Jon Pineda
Gary Pretlow New York online poker RAWA

New York Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, seen here with former President Clinton, believes online poker would not only benefit his state by way of new tax revenues, but also protect residents from rogue poker sites. (Image: Mike Groll/AP)

New York Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-District 89) has been championing the online poker movement in his state for more than a year, and in a recent op-ed in Roll Call, a newspaper covering legislative and political headlines on Capitol Hill, he voices his opposition to the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA).

Pretlow authored a bill in May of 2014 that sought to “license certain entities for play to the public certain variants of Internet poker,” but while his legislation failed to gain traction among his constituents, Congress has been subject to RAWA in both the Senate and House, a bill that would outlaw all forms of iGaming on the federal level.

“The proposal currently being considered in the House, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, would prevent states from deciding for themselves how to regulate gaming and online lotteries, prevent us from capturing the potential for economic growth these systems offer and tie the hands of our law enforcement when it comes to protecting consumers online,” Pretlow wrote in his column.

Change of Opinion

While Pretlow has long been an advocate for Internet gambling and especially online poker, he did voice concern earlier this year regarding the age and location verification process.

That notion has seemed to change in Pretlow’s latest public decree, writing in his op-ed “New Jersey’s geolocation technology has been enormously successful.”

Pretlow’s declaration at the beginning of 2015 that “online poker will not happen within the year” is also being challenged as State Senator John Bonacic (R-District 42) reintroduced his iPoker bill for a second straight year in mid-May.

Bonacic’s act would charge $10 million for each licensee, limit total operators to 10, and tax gross gaming revenues at 15 percent.

Bonacic also omits any “bad actor” language, meaning PokerStars could theoretically enter the market should his bill pass.

And with Pretlow chairing the Assembly Committee on Racing and Wagering, the committee is overseeing Bonacic’s legislation, the odds of it passing committee and being submitted to an assembly vote are thought to be increased.

Time is of the Essence

According to State Budget Solutions, a nonpartisan and non-profit organization that analyzes how state and local governments operate, New York’s debt totaled $387 billion as of January 2014, second to only California in total liabilities and 10th per capita.

It’s apparent that Governor Andrew Cuomo and state politicians need as many new revenue sources as possible, and online gambling is appealing to many who believe a regulated market is not only safer for residents but also prosperous for Albany.

New York’s southern neighbor Pennsylvania is considering its own online poker legislation, while New Jersey’s Internet gambling is the market standard, reaping $122 million in additional revenues from online gaming in 2014.

The Empire State stands to profit much more than in New Jersey, as New York’s population is twice the size.

“If we can find a way to promote economic growth and protect consumers, we should do it,” Pretlow insists.

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