The Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee of New York will hold an online poker hearing the following month.
Senator John Bonacic, who had proposed an online poker bill in May, had requested this hearing. Bonacic will also chair the committee, which plans to weigh the various pros and cons of this bill. A specific date for the hearing has not yet been announced, but it is likely to be held after Labor Day.
The committee will only explore the bill and collect poker-related information as the first steps to converting a bill into law should be taken by the legislature. Industry analysts say that there are no chances of New York passing an online poker bill in 2015, but it might become possible the following year.
Lawmakers and various representatives of the gambling industry will be present at the hearing. Bonacic said: “I’m bringing in Caesars and MGM plus all of my casinos, racinos, and OTBs. We are going to have a discussion on the pros and cons of moving the legislation.
The focus of New York so far has been on expanding its land-based gambling industry. Last December, the Gaming Facility Location Board had recommended granting licenses to three new casinos in upstate New York. Once this project is successfully under way, the lawmakers may consider issues related to the legalization of online poker.
MGM Resorts commissioned a study in 2014, which revealed that the people of New York were fond of online poker and spent as much as $100 million every year on poker games.
New York has a population of slightly less than 20 million residents, ranking third in the USA and lagging behind Texas and California. Online poker in New York may survive only if the state partners with New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware for liquidity sharing.
Bonacic’s bill is poker only. He suggests a tax rate of 15% the gross gaming revenue (GGR) and a licensing fee of $10 million for 10 years. He also proposes capping the number of licenses to 10. The bill does not contain any bad actor clause, which means that PokerStars will find it very easy to enter the new market.
It is too early to say if New York will consider legalizing only online poker or other forms of online gambling. The issue may not be discussed at the September hearing, but will definitely be considered in the near future.