New York one step closer to online poker and MGM Resorts couldn’t be happier

new-york-online-poker-mgm-resortsNew York is one step closer to regulating online poker following a favorable state Senate committee vote.

On Thursday morning, New York’s state Senate Finance Committee overwhelmingly approved Sen. John Bonacic’s S5302 bill in a lightning-fast affair that mimicked February’s blink-and-you-missed-it approval by the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee.

Thursday’s only contrary opinion came from Sen. Liz Kruger, who said – we think, as the webcast’s audio feed turned everyone into Charlie Brown’s parents – there ought to be more public hearings on a subject with such “very broad ramifications.”

The committee’s approval means S5302 will likely get a vote by the full Senate. Before anyone gets their hopes up, keep in mind that the state Assembly’s membership is said to be far less enthusiastic about online poker and the legislature is scheduled to adjourn on June 16, meaning there’s high hurdles to clear and not much time in which to clear them.

Besides, New York legislators are simultaneously wrestling with whether to bring daily fantasy sports under the state’s list of approved gambling options. While it isn’t necessarily a case of one or the other, the DFS political spotlight is burning much brighter than poker, given that the failure to pass legislation means that the nasty legal court fight between the state’s attorney general and DFS operators will go on.

Following Thursday’s vote, New York’s online poker backers got a welcome endorsement from casino operator MGM Resorts. The public statement by MGM’s legal counsel John McManus, first obtained by OnlinePokerReport, applauded the committee for wanting to “create a safe, legal environment for online poker.”

MGM’s statement comes just days after the company acquired full ownership of Atlantic City’s Borgata casino, which currently boasts the biggest online gambling operation in America’s biggest regulated online market, suggesting MGM may have chosen to plot a more activist course on the legislative front.

MGM CEO Jim Murren has made pro-iGaming public statements before but generally only when asked and the company has previously not made a regular habit of issuing statements that so closely follow the iGaming news cycle, although McManus did offer favorable testimony at last September’s Senate hearing on S5302.

MGM was at one time far more vocal on the subject, albeit via sock puppets. Along with rival Caesars Entertainment, MGM was a chief financial backer of FairPlay USA, an astroturf group that advocated for federal regulation of online poker in the months following the April 2011 Black Friday indictments of PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker.