Just last week, Senator John Bonacic of New York filed a bill in the senate that would see online poker legalized and regulated in the state. Yesterday, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow filed a measure in the Assembly, A5250, a measure that is identical to the Bonacic bill.
Pretlow’s bill would consider certain interactive poker games as games of skill instead of games of luck. The change in definition would allow the activity to take place without being in violation of the state constitution. The two bills would see eleven iPoker licenses available in the state with operators paying $10 million each in upfront fees. The amount would then be credited towards tax obligations in the future based on a 15% tax rate of gross gaming revenues.
This is not the first time that Pretlow or Bonacic have filed iPoker legislation. Bonacic saw a bill clear the floor last year but the measure died in the Assembly. For these bills, it seems that the Senate should pass Bonacic’s measure due to support being in place but Pretlow may have more difficulty in the Assembly gathering support for a vote in favor of his bill.
In New York, the constitution prohibits the expansion of gambling via legislation. By defining poker as a game of skill in the new legislation, Bonacic and Pretlow will be able to escape the gambling prohibition. The state took the exact same approach last year when legalization daily fantasy sports.
For now, New York now joins several states that have proposed legislation in regards to some form of online gaming in 2017. Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Massachusetts are just a handful of the states across the nation that are looking to legalize some form of iGaming this year. It will be interesting to watch and see which state will be the first to be successful.