NY Assemblyman Gary Pretlow Aims to Pass iPoker Bill Next MonthMay 21, 2018 9:15 am
Last year, New York Assemblyman Gary Pretlow and Senator John Bonacic introduced online poker bill’s AB-5250 and SB-3898 to their respective legislature. While SB-3898 has since passed the state Senate, AB-5250, on the other hand, has thus far failed to make it to the Assembly floor.
Nevertheless, Pretlow has recently expressed his intention to have online poker formally legalized and regulated in the Empire State, with the Democrat politician optimistically stating that Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie bringing AB-5250 to the floor for a vote is all that’s required in order to get the piece of legislation passed. Speaking to Online Poker Report recently, Pretlow explained:
“To get it to the floor is all that’s needed. He’s not going to guarantee passage, but get it to the floor and I’ll debate it and get it passed.”
Similar to SB-3898, its companion bill in the Senate, AB-5250 also seeks to grant 11 online poker licenses to land-based casinos based in New York. Under the proposed measure, however, poker would be exempt from being categorized as a game of chance, therefore allowing regulators to consider the issue outside of the general definition of gambling.
The need to find an alternative sources of income has become increasingly more important for New York as it is currently contending with a challenging $4.4 billion budget deficit and the threat of the federal government cutting funds to the state.
Added to the extra income online poker could generate for New York, lawmakers may now be more amenable than ever to passing an online gambling bill as last week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that individual states had the right offer legal sports betting if they so wished. This then opens the door for New York and other jurisdictions to consider offering sports betting both live and online, in the process increasing online poker legislation’s chances of passing a vote further down the line.
So far indications are good that New York will soon adopt regulated sports betting as the state already has a fantasy sports betting law in place, and this week Pretlow is also expected to introduce a stand alone sports betting bill. As the Assemblyman then explains:
“This will be helpful to getting online poker done. There are more people interested in pursuing sports betting than pursuing online poker. For whatever reason, people consider online poker to be gambling but don’t consider sports betting to be gambling. I’m going to show them this is all gaming, and all forms of gaming happening are related.”
Catalyst for Statewide Expansion
New York is the third most densely populated state in the U.S. with 20 million residents, behind California (40m) and Texas (28m). Therefore, the formal passage of online poker legislation in the state has the potential to have a profound impact on the country’s nascent iPoker industry, particularly if its numbers were added to that of the tri-state shared player network consisting of New Jersey (13m), Nevada (3m) and Delaware (1m). Pennsylvania (13m) is also expected to join the pact perhaps at the end of this year, which would give the combined network a total catchment area of 45 million people.
At such a point, the market would have become sufficiently attractive that more and more states may feel able to immediately benefit from entering the already established industry, resulting in a snowball effect as player traffic continues to grow. Under such circumstances, industry optimists might even speculate that US online poker might one day even have the potential to approach the levels seen prior to Black-Friday (2011) when the Department of Justice pulled the rug from under the industry’s feet.
In the meantime, however, significant hurdles stand in the way of any further progress being made on the issue, with possible sticking points including opposition coming from tribal gaming interests and the horse racing industry, as well as having to clear local voter referendum mandates.