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New York online poker bill scraps bad actor ban; state Dems urge RAWA defeat

TAGs: John Bonacic, New York, rawa, Restoration of America’s Wire Act

new-york-online-poker-bonacic-bad-actorNew York state Sen. John Bonacic (pictured left) has reintroduced an amended version of his intrastate online poker bill.

The new S 5302 bill is largely the same as the legislation Bonacic introduced in March 2014, with one notable exception. The ‘bad actor’ clause prohibiting the licensing of any operator or ‘significant vendor’ who took wagers from US residents after Dec. 31, 2006 has been expunged.

The bill would allow for a maximum of 10 licensed operators, each of which would pay a $10m upfront fee and a tax rate of 15% of gross gaming revenue. Licenses would be valid for a 10-year term. The bill also allows for the possibility of liquidity sharing with other like-minded states.

The bill has been referred to the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, which Bonacic chairs. Sadly, New York appears no more prepared to move on Bonacic’s latest effort than it proved last year. Still, as that old High Hopes song observed, it takes a lot of headbutting to punch a hole in a dam, so Bonacic’s resolve is worth at least a golf clap or two.

Meanwhile, some New York state Democrats have spoken out against the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), the Sheldon Adelson-backed legislation that would render most online gambling operations illegal. The New York Daily News reported that the five members of the state Senate Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) had written a letter to New York’s congressional delegation asking them to vote against RAWA if/when it comes up for debate on the House or Senate floors.

The IDC hasn’t yet offered full-throated support for intrastate legalization efforts like that of the Republican Bonacic, although they do say online poker and online lottery sales could generate new tax revenue and create job opportunities. The main point of the IDC’s letter is to reinforce the notion that gambling is a matter for the states to decide, without federal meddling. The IDC letter says RAWA “usurps New York’s ability to determine for itself” what kind of gambling activity is tolerated within its borders.

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