New York Online Poker Bill Poised for Reintroduction

Posted on January 23rd, 2017 by Alana Markoff
New York online poker Gary Pretlow

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow is renewing his push for New York online poker, and advocates for the expansion of the digital card game are hoping this year will be different in the Empire State. (Image: Hans Pennink/Associated Press)

New York online poker has been a topic of consideration for more than three years in the Albany state capital. Now 2017, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-District 89) is expected to reintroduce legislation in the coming weeks to reignite the debate.

2016 was a wild ride for internet poker advocates across the country. It was especially volatile in the Empire State.

Pretlow and State Senator John Bonacic (R-District 42) are the leading lawmakers pushing for the authorization of online poker in New York. They pushed two identical poker bills, and while the state Senate version passed through committee and was once part of an overall budget plan, the legislation was eventually the victim of a bad beat.

Into New York’s fourth week of the legislative New Year, Pretlow is reportedly ready to resume his efforts. During an interview with Gambling Compliance (GI), the assemblyman revealed he recently met with New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) to learn more about their security and regulatory efforts and outcomes.

According to GI, a new or rehashed version of Pretlow’s online poker bill could soon be reintroduced.

During a 2015 Roll Call op-ed, Pretlow wrote, “We are considering bills to allow online poker. These proposals are responsible and reflect the very core of what we should be doing: leveraging business opportunities to help our state.”

If at First You Don’t Succeed

Though Pretlow has been looking at online poker for years, he was actually one of the reasons why bills didn’t make it to a floor vote in 2016.

During a Skype call last year, the politician said “there are some issues” that “we’re really not prepared to introduce legislation that’s going to go to the floor.” Those issues largely dealt with player security, but after meeting with the Garden State’s DGE, his fears are apparently at ease.

Another reason online poker was shelved was likely due to the legal battle between New York and daily fantasy sports (DFS).

Following a contentious back and forth with DraftKings and FanDuel, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman reached a settlement with the two DFS platforms. The state received $12 million in fines and penalties, and the legislature pushed through a bill to allow the websites to recommence operations.

Details Forthcoming

Internet poker in the US is finally growing and delivering tangible tax benefits to the three states where the game is permitted. In New Jersey, online poker was up 11.3 percent in 2016.

Internet gambling played a substantial role in helping Atlantic City produce its first positive gain in a decade, and New York wants in on the game. Should the Empire State also look to share player liquidity through an interstate compact, it would be a monumental development for online poker advocates, as well as revenue for operators and governments.

Pretlow’s previous online poker bill called for a one-time licensing fee of $10 million, with gross gaming revenues taxed at 15 percent. He’s also supported legislation free of any so-called “bad actor” language that might attempt to block PokerStars from being included.

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