In a first, an online poker bill in the state of New York has moved forward in the legislative process. Introduced by Sen. John Bonacic, the bill was approved by the state Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee in a matter of minutes and moved to Senate Finance Committee for further approval.
The bill S5302-B was reintroduced by Sen Bonacic in 2015 after it made no progress in 2014.
It has now been referred to the Senate Finance Committee after the Racing committee headed by Bonacic voted unanimously 9-0 in its favor.
In a speedy approval process, the bill was cleared within four minutes without any questions.
After its approval, Bonacic issued a statement saying that the bill had taken the essential step to move ahead from the Racing Committee. He further added that he was looking forward to having discussions on the bill with colleagues from both the State Houses.
The Poker Player Alliance (PPA) has issued a statement thanking the Senator for the progress in the bill.
In a statement, John Pappas, Executive Director Poker Players Alliance said,
The PPA thanks Chairman John Bonacic and the Committee for acting quickly to pass iPoker legislation through the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering. If passed into law, the bill would provide New Yorkers who play poker online with a safe and regulated environment, while bringing in revenue for the state. We encourage the Finance Committee to move quickly to usher the legislation through the Senate, and also urge the Assembly to move forward with their respective legislation.
Pappas also added that the legislators should not wait for the commercial land casinos to commence operations before approving online gambling websites. According to him, brick-and-mortar casinos would benefit by having a ready clientele if the websites become operational first.
The proposed bill will allow issuance of up to 10 online poker licenses which would be valid for 10 years. The operators would be charged a license fee of $10 million and 15 percent of the gross gaming revenue. Assemblyman Gary Pretlow also recently introduced an associated bill AB9049 which deals with online gaming including poker and wagering.
There has been a lot of action in New York’s gaming industry in recent times. While legislators approved three new non-tribal brick-and-mortar casinos in December 2015, online gaming has been entangled in legal issues.
New York’s attorney general is fighting a legal battle to have daily fantasy sports (DFS) operators barred in the state and to declare DFS illegal under the current gambling laws on the basis that they fall under the category of being games of chance. It is hard to imagine how the online poker bill would be approved in 2016 when state legislators continue to battle DFS operators.