New York Latest State to Introduce Online Poker Bill

New York SealFirst reported by Chris Grove of OnlinePokerReport.com, New York State Senator John Bonacic has reintroduced legislation to legalize online poker in the Empire State. Bonacic introduced S 5302, a bill that would amend current New York laws to allow certain forms of interactive poker games, on May 13, 2015.

New York was one of a handful of states expected to introduce online gaming legislation in 2015, but the general consensus is the state is still several years away from acting on one of these bills, as legislators have indicated they want to see the current land-based expansion completed before debating further expansion of gaming in the state.

2014 efforts gained little traction

Two online gaming bills were introduced in 2014 -S 6913 by Senator Bonacic, and A 09509 by Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow.

In an interview last year, Bonacic called the introduction of his bill a “conversation starter” and didn’t expect the legislation to gain any traction.

Earlier this year Pretlow told Gambling Compliance he expected bills to be filed and perhaps hearings, but didn’t expect an online gaming bill to pass. Pretlow told GC, “Online poker will not happen within the year.”

Inside S 5302

S 5302 is similar to the online poker bill Bonacic first introduced in 2014, S 6913.

  • Both bills would online legalize online poker, not casino games.
  • Both bills also call for an upfront licensing fee of $10 million (for a 10 year license) and tax rate of 15% on Gross Gaming Revenue.
  • Both bills call on regulators to create and enact regulations within 180 days of the bill passing, a very aggressive timeframe.

S 5302 lacks Bad Actor clause

One key difference between the two bills is the removal of the Bad Actor/Tainted Asset language that appeared in Bonacic’s 2014 bill.

The removal of the Bad Actor clause is unsurprising as the poker zeitgeist has been moving in this direction all year long.

First, Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer removed any mention of Bad Actor clauses from his California online poker bill.

More significant was the subsequent agreement between Caesars Entertainment and PokerStars  that would see the two gaming giants combine forces to fight for continued expansion of online gaming in the U.S. and against Sheldon Adelson’s efforts to ban online gambling federally.

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