Lawmakers Interest in New York Online Poker Bill Growing

Lawmakers Interest in New York Online Poker Bill GrowingThis month, New York left online poker out of the state budget for a third straight year, leaving analysts sure that any advancement on legislation had been crushed for yet another year. For all those players currently forced to travel across the border to play online legally in New Jersey, however, there may still be hope for progress in 2018 after all.
The lawmaker behind the new found optimism is Assemblyman Clyde Vanel (photo), who has been office for a little over one year, and currently chairs the Subcommittee on Internet and New Technology. Recently, Vanel helped Assemblyman Gary Pretlow drum up Democratic support for having internet poker included in the Assembly’s budget plans, and while his efforts may not have seen online poker added to the state budget, they have at least generated an increase in co-sponsors for the bill.
Vanel said that he intends to continue lobbying for support of the bill during the present legislative session, and expressing his appreciation for the Assemblyman’s efforts, Pretlow stated:
“He’s great. I’m trying to get him on my committee. He gets it, but a lot of people don’t get it. Everybody has an Uncle Louie who lost his paycheck.”
Assembly Key to Success
State Senator John Bonacic has been instrumental in having an online poker bill pass on the Senate side for two years in a row, whereas Pretlow has made little progress in the Assembly over the past few years, leading some to conclude that the problem may lie with the sponsor and not the bill.
This year, for instance, Bonacic’s online poker bill (S.3898) sailed through the committee at the start of the year, but the Senator subsequently failed to take it further, perhaps due to his previous efforts being undermined in the Assemblyman, with many blaming Pretlow for a lack of sincerity in pushing through the companion bill (A.5250) he sponsors.
Assemblyman Clyde Vanel
Against this backdrop, Assemblyman Vanel has entered the picture, and this month pointed out that if more than 60 Assembly members have expressed their willingness to support online poker being added to New York’s annual budget, then the very same members should also be prepared to co-sponsor the bill. Vanel said that he would now expend his efforts gathering around 70 co-sponsors for the bill, and to date has already succeeded in signing up 45 new co-sponsors.
Of course, Pretlow remains the bill’s primary sponsor, but the Assemblyman is seen as being too negative and defeatist in his approach, and commenting upon the current state of play, he said that he was no more optimistic than he was at the start of the year.
“It’s growing, but not fast enough. We will get to 60, but my goal is 76. At 76, that means there’s a majority of Democrats in favor,” stated Pretlow.
Vanel’s influence, on the other hand, has already produced more legislative progress on the issue than has seen in several years. His outlook is also in sharp contrast to that of Pretlow, with Vanel asserting that he thinks “we have a good shot of getting it through this year.”
Combined Poker and Sports Bill?
Pretlow seems more concerned with passing a sports betting bill in 2018, with an imminent ruling on New Jersey’s PASPA challenge in the US Supreme Court this summer adding an extra incentive to his focus. A positive outcome will then see states across the country able to legalize and regulate sports betting within their borders, with some analyst suggesting online poker would have a better chance of success if it was attached to the sports bill, and not just left as an isolated bill.
That, however, doesn’t seem to be high on Pretlow’s agenda, with him stating that “combining the bills is a last resort. I don’t want to combine them, but if I have to then I will.”
Once again, this would indicate that Pretlow may lack the determination to drive his online poker bill pass the Assembly, with the job perhaps better left in Vanel’s hands.

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