Less than two weeks into 2015 we have already seen three iGaming bills introduced in state legislatures. And those three states, California, Mississippi, and Washington State, will likely be joined by another state in the near future: New York.
Per GamblingCompliance, New York Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, the chairman of the Racing and Wagering Committee intimated an online gambling bill would likely be introduced in the Empire State 2015. Pretlow also anticipated hearings would be held on online gambling.
This assertion should not be taken lightly as Pretlow is likely the to be the lawmaker who introduces the bill. Pretlow introduced an online gambling bill into the Assembly last year, while State Senator John Bonacic introduced a similar iGaming bill in the NY Senate.
Expect a pro-iGaming push but don’t expect a bill to pass
As we reported several months ago, MGM (which it should be noted failed to procure a casino license in New York) created the Let NY Play campaign, calling for the legalization of online gambling in the state.
Even though the company was not selected for one of New York’s new casinos the Let NY Play campaign is still active, perhaps an indication of MGM’s long-term iGaming designs.
However, even with a serious lobbying effort New York is unlikely to legalize online gambling in 2015. As Pretlow told Gambling Compliance, “Online poker will not happen within the year.”
Interestingly, Senator Bonacic referred to his 2014 bill as a not-serious effort, and more of a “conversation starter,” which seems to be how Pretlow views any potential 2015 iGaming bills.
Pretlow has a good reason to be pessimistic. New York is currently mired in an ongoing expansion of their land-based casino industry – three casino licenses were recently awarded, and a fourth could be handed out as well.
With a major, and somewhat controversial, undertaking already in progress, it’s unlikely the state’s lawmakers will want to wade into online gambling before they have the opportunity to assess the impact of casino expansion and gauge the public’s reaction.
Other states exploring iGaming in 2015
As noted in the opening, New York isn’t the only state looking into online gambling expansion.
California Assemblyman Mike Gatto introduced an online poker bill back in December.
Thanks to the efforts of online poker advocate Curtis Woodard, State Representative Sherry Appleton introduced Woodard’s proposed online poker bill in Washington State.
For the fourth straight year Representative Bobby Moak has introduced an online gambling bill in Mississippi.
Pennsylvania is another state likely to make a serious push for online gambling expansion this year, and considering the plethora of bills already introduced, don’t rule out states such as Massachusetts, West Virginia, Illinois, or even a real dark horse such as Iowa or Connecticut.
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