The online poker community in New York was optimistic about the state’s push to legalize online poker after the New York senate passed an online poker bill last week with a 54-8 vote. This was the second year in a row in which the senate has approved an online poker bill and the bill will now be reviewed by the Assembly to determine if it gets approval.
Online gambling is currently legal only in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. For the last 3 years, a number of states such as California, Pennsylvania and New York have debated the possibility of lifting the online gambling ban and each of these states have introduced online gambling bills that have looked promising at times but has failed in getting the necessary approval.
New York Online Gambling Bill
New York legislators believe that the online gambling industry has much to offer and would generate significant gaming revenue for the state and also help to curb illegal gambling operations and protect players from being exploited by these underground operators. Last week, Assemblyman Gary J Pretlow stated that even though the senate had approved the online poker bill, it was a complicated process to get the Assembly to agree. To make things more difficult, the New York Assembly has only a few more days left on its legislative calendar.
The new online poker bill will allow the state to offer inter-state gambling thereby making its player pool bigger and providing better competition to its players. Players will have to be physically present in New York and be over 21 years of age. The state gaming commission will have the responsibility of framing the regulations to govern the New York online gambling market and a total of 11 online gaming licenses would be approved.
Sen. John Bonacic who sponsored the bill stated that the bill served two purposes as it would regulate online poker in New York and would also provide consumer protection to players in New York who are now forced to access underground gambling websites and open themselves up to unsafe gaming operations and exploitation. Bonacic has promised to work with his Assembly colleagues and see that the bill clears both houses before the legislative session winds up for this year.
Taxes And Fees
The bill would require online gaming operators to pay a licensing fee of $10 million upfront and then a 15 percent tax rate on their gross gaming revenue (GGR). Just before the bill could go to the Senate for a vote, a bad actor clause was added to the bill which in essence targeted Pokerstars, the biggest online poker website in the world – which would make it difficult for the company to obtain a license and enter the New York market. The clause would not make it impossible for Pokerstars to obtain a license but would make the process a lot more complicated for the online poker giant.
Legislative Session Ends This Week
However based on a recent statement by Assemblyman Pretlow, it appears that New York will most likely shelve the online poker bill in 2017 as there isn’t sufficient time on the legislative calendar this year, for the review to be completed. Pretlow stated the Assembly Democrats held a closed door meeting late last week and based on their feedback it was highly unlikely that it would be discussed before the Assembly as the last day of legislative calendar is on 21 June.
Pretlow stated that the Assembly Democrats were opposed to the bill but did not state what exactly they were not in favor of. The Assemblyman stated that they would once again work on the bill in 2018 and see if New York would legalize online gambling.
Coalition To Stop Internet Gambling
The process and the results online gambling legislation in California, New York and Pennsylvania has more or less been the same for the last three years. There has been progress with online gambling bills but opposition parties have succeeded in stalling the momentum to legalize online gambling and as many as 10 states continue to go back and forth with legalizing online gambling. Sheldon Adelson, billionaire and Las Vegas Sands Chairman will be happy with the result as he funds the ‘Coalition To Stop Internet Gambling’ campaign which is the biggest opposition party to online gambling in America.