Two new bills that seek to legalize online poker have been submitted in New York and Kentucky. The proposals have been tabled by NY Assemblyman Gary Pretlow and Kentucky Republican rep Adam Koenig.
Second Poker Bill for New York In 2019
Sen Joseph Addabbo introduced online poker bill SB 18 in January and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow came up with another online poker bill similar to SB 18 but this time without a “bad actor” clause which prohibits major online poker providers like PokerStars to operate in the state.
Pretlow, a staunch supporter of online gambling, currently chairs the Empire State’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee. Last week, he launched A 4924 to the state assembly, seeking to remove poker from the game of chance category and instead reclassify it as a game of skill. By doing this, the state legislature would not be required to amend the state constitution.
Like Addabbo, Pretlow is also proposing a one-time licensing fee of $10 million. His bill includes a clause allowing for interstate deals for online poker, like the current compact between New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. The three states signed a liquidity sharing agreement last year. However, the recent Wire Act reversal by the Department of Justice could block future multi-state partnerships, as the law could expand to other forms of online shared liquidity, instead of being only limited to sports betting.
New York has seen its fair share of online poker bills over the last few years. Most of them end up getting cleared by the Senate but then not getting adequate support in the Assembly. Pretlow’s bill could tread the same path, according to industry insiders.
New York Wants Statewide Assessment of Gambling
Last month, Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal called for the state’s gaming commission to conduct a state-wide assessment of the extent of gambling by local residents. The study would take several years to complete. Rosenthal tabled a bill on the matter which could potentially delay the passage of any online gambling bill in the legislature.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s full support for sports betting played a key role in successfully passing regulations for the industry in January. But the Governor has not made a clear stance yet on online poker.
Online Poker, Sports Betting Bill Filed in Kentucky
Over the years, the state of Kentucky has managed to build a strong resistance to online gambling. Even before Black Friday, the state has explored every legal avenue to push away online gaming providers. The state even tried to seize online poker domain names in 2008.
But everything could change if state lawmakers manage to pass a new bill which seeks to legalize online poker and sports betting.
Republican rep Adam Koenig filed HB 175 last week, with the support of 14 other legislators. Under Koenig’s proposal, players aged 18 years or older will be allowed to play poker. A 6.75% tax will be imposed on revenue generated by the online poker industry, which will fall under the scope of the Kentucky Lottery Commission.
Sports betting will impose a slightly higher tax rate of 10.25% on retail sports wagering and 14.25% on online betting revenue. Operators would be required to pay a sports betting license fee of $1 million.
Last year, a similar bill was introduced in the state by a bipartisan group of 9 state lawmakers. It came in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling lifting a federal ban on sports betting in May 2018. However, the proposed legislation was unsuccessful, despite Gov. Matt Bevin indicating his support for sports betting in the state.
Legalized sports betting could contribute up to $26 million in revenue to the state of Kentucky. Up to now, Kentucky has not allowed any casino to operate within its borders. It also has pending legal battles against online poker providers, most notably The Stars Group. In 2010, it lodged an $870 million lawsuit against the company for operating in the state after the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA).
The state also sued Digital Entertainment in 2010 after it pulled out of the US in the wake of the UIGEA. It reached a $15 million settlement with the gaming giant in 2013.
Kentucky has taken a tough stance against online poker and other forms of gambling but betting on horse racing has been legal in the state since 1783. The state also allows online lottery gambling.
There is not a lot of optimism when it comes to both online poker bills in New York or Kentucky but die hard poker enthusiasts continue to remain optimistic.

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