New York State Senator John Bonacic Says Changes Likely to iPoker Bill

Posted on September 21st, 2015 by Jon Pineda

John Bonacic New York online poker legislation Gary Pretlow PPA

New York State Senator John Bonacic says he will amend his Internet poker bill to appeal to all parties, standing firm that his goal in 2016 is to legalize iPoker. (Image:

New York State Senator John Bonacic (R-District 42) is the chief supporter of legalizing online poker in the Empire State, his bill making the assertion that poker is a game of skill rather than luck, but the 25-year member of the Albany legislature says changes will be required for his proposition to gain momentum.

Following the September 9th public hearing in the Racing, Gaming and Wagering committee to “Discuss the Future of Online Poker in New York State,” Bonacic said amendments to future legislation in 2016 will be required to adapt to feedback heard at the meeting.

“The reason we’ve been studying this and why I had a public hearing was to gather technical information to improve the bill,” Bonacic recently told Time Warner Cable News. “If you’re going to be in the gaming business, if you’re going to want revenue for the state… you’re going to have to eventually get into the business.”

$10 Million Fee Questioned

Most notably, the one-time $10 million initial licensing fee previously proposed is thought to be excessive and is expected to be readdressed.

New Jersey charges $400,000 upfront for new licensees, with renewals at $250,000 plus a $250,000 annual “Responsible Internet Gaming Fee.” Nevada charges $500,000 per license, while operators in Delaware pay just $2,000 plus technology fees as part of the state lottery system.

Though New York’s population trumps that of the other three states with legalized iGambling combined, its larger pool of potential players still might not make the market attractive enough with such exorbitant tariffs.

David Klein, managing partner of Klein, Moynihan and Turco, an Internet and mobile marketing law firm in Manhattan, says the high fee is warranted and “makes sure that applicants are serious” about investing in the future of New York online poker.

PPA Not Optimistic

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the game’s leading lobbyist arm, hinted that New Yorkers should tame their hopefulness for iPoker passage when the state’s senate and assembly reconvene in January. “Right now, this bill is just the senator’s initial thoughts,” John Pappas, PPA executive director told Gambling Compliance this week.

Pappas feels that Bonacic’s crusade is largely a solo mission and he needs to garner support among his colleagues upstate. “The administration (Governor Andrew Cuomo) has been quiet,” Bonacic admitted before adding, “I think Assemblyman Pretlow (D-District 89) is warming up to the idea.”

Pretlow could be vital for iPoker’s 2016 chances in New York.

Bonacic chairs his chamber’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering committee while Pretlow chairs the assembly’s counterpart.

Once rather neutral to passing iPoker, Pretlow changed his tune over the summer when he wrote an op-ed supporting states’ rights to decide its online gaming position.

“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 exclaimed.

A Bonacic/Pretlow joint campaign to protect iPoker players and increase tax revenue could be a popular movement in Albany come 2016.

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