The turnout for the Senate Standing Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering of New York was quite bleak with members of the Senate actually walking out before the hearing was concluded. State Senator John Bonacic is the sponsor of an online poker bill that was to be discussed and Chairman of the committee. Bonacic was left on his own after two legislators left early before the seven speakers could complete their testimony.
The hearing was scheduled to discuss S 5302, an online poker bill created and introduced by Bonacic. The Senator stated that the exit of both legislators was not due to the speakers at the hearing but prior commitments. However, it does show that legislators are not too concerned on passing legislation in New York for online poker gaming.
In attendance were seven guest speakers, including John Pappas, the Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance. Pappas discussed the importance of authorizing and regulating online poker to help protect consumers. He used Lock Poker to show how players can be affected without regulation.
The President of the New York Gaming Association, James Featherstonhaugh, also spoke during the hearing. The president stated that legislators need to move with caution to access online poker potential in the state properly against the nine racinos of the state. Featherstonhaugh pointed out that the state is working on three new resort casinos over the next few years with a fourth possibly in the works. The impact of online gaming with these land based facilities cannot yet be determined.
Michael Polock of Spectrum Gaming Group also spoke, warning legislators that the racinos are facing a customer base that is aging. This could allow for online poker as a way to bring in younger customers. John McManus was a speaker at the hearing, and as the general counsel of MGM Resorts, stated that all industries, including the racinos need to embrace the Internet to avoid becoming irrelevant.
Additional speakers of the hearing included David Satz the Senior VP of government relations for Caesars Entertainment; Tom Balance the President of the Borgata; Kevin Cochran, Gambling Compliance senior legal analyst and Richard Schwartz, the Rush Street Interactive President.
The hearing was not full of legislators but at least the discussion began in the state on the subject of online poker gaming.
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