New York Lawmakers Taking Yet Another Swing at Legalizing Online Poker

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New York legislators have failed in several attempts to regulate online poker over the past few years. But that isn’t stopping them from taking yet another crack at the issue in 2019.

New York online poker
New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo is introducing a new online poker bill to the state legislature. (Image: New York State Senate)

State Senator Joseph Addabbo (D-15th District) has introduced a bill that would regulate online poker rooms in New York, making this the sixth consecutive year that the state legislature has taken up the issue in at least one house.

Addabbo Picks Up Mantle from Bonacic

Last year, the State Senate was able to pass similar legislation, but the bill wasn’t able to make it through the Assembly.

In most previous years, Senate efforts related to online poker were led by Senator John Bonacic. However, Bonacic retired after the previous legislative session, allowing Addabbo to get his own crack at trying to get a bill over the hump.

In his version of the legislation, Addabbo allows for up to 11 licenses to be granted. Each license comes with a $10 million fee, with online poker being taxed at 15 percent of gross revenue. Only existing New York gaming operators – either tribal or commercial – can earn a license to operate online poker.

The bill also features stronger bad actor clauses than in any previous internet poker bill in the state. Under the rules of this law, any company or person who accepted online bets — on poker, casino games, sports betting or anything else that wasn’t legally authorized – in the United States starting in 2007 would not be eligible to receive a license.

That language would most prominently impact The Stars Group, as PokerStars continued to take bets throughout most of the United States up until the Black Friday shutdowns of April 15, 2011.

Assembly Could Prove More Challenging Than Senate

Given the fact that online poker legislation has previously been successful in the Senate, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Addabbo was able to find success in his chamber again during 2019.

However, pushing a bill through the Assembly might prove to be a bigger challenge. The key member in efforts in that legislative house is Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon), who has previously talked about the difficulty of convincing his colleagues that online poker would be a smart bet.

My conference has issues with online poker,” Pretlow told FiOS1 News last May. “I’m trying to convince them that it is a game of skill, it is not gambling. That argument can go on for a long time. I think at some point we’re going to get it done, though.”

But while Pretlow may be in favor of online poker in principle, he has made it clear that it is no longer his top priority when it comes to gambling expansion.

“If I had to make a choice, I would choose [sports betting] over online poker just because the revenue stream is so much better,” Pretlow told Online Poker Report in December.

The New York State Legislature goes into session on Wednesday, and is scheduled to run through June 19.

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