New York senate approves online poker bill despite zombie warnings

TAGs: Gary Pretlow, John Bonacic, New York

new-york-online-poker-zombie-debateThe New York state senate has approved an online poker bill for the first time, although poker’s chief proponent in the state Assembly declared earlier in the day that he isn’t likely to move a companion measure in the legislature’s dying days.

Late on Tuesday, following a truly interminable debate between S-5302 sponsor Sen. John Bonacic (pictured left) and online gambling opponent Sen. Liz Krueger (on the right), the full senate voted 53-5 in favor on the bill’s passage. Bonacic’s victory was that much sweeter given that Tuesday was his birthday.

While the unprecedented nature of the senate’s approval is laudatory, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, who chairs the Assembly’s racing and wagering committee, poured cold water on the issue even before the senate began its debate. The Buffalo News quoted Pretlaw saying that the online poker push in the Assembly was “dead.”

The state is also wrestling with the issue of whether to legalize daily fantasy sports, an issue that has significantly more juice than poker, and the legislature is set to adjourn on Thursday, so it appears online poker is simply a bill too far.

Unwilling to let go, the Poker Players Alliance has insisted that there is still a legislative path toward online poker passage, namely by inclusion in what New York legislators refer to as ‘the big ugly,’ i.e. a last minute, grab-bag omnibus package that collects mongrel bills like some Brooklyn dogcatcher.

Krueger questioned Bonacic for a half-hour – the only pol that asked any questions – and her line of inquiry displayed her obvious bias agin’ gambling. She also displayed a shocking level of ignorance about online gambling coupled with a remarkable familiarity with Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling talking points.

Krueger claimed that she wasn’t automatically opposed against any of the state’s pending gaming bills, “I just can’t find one I like. And tonight is no different.” Krueger then downshifted into a bizarre rant about how the internet and smartphones were turning Americans into “junkies on our computers” and “livingl zombies.”

Krueger appeared not to notice, but Bonacic found a way to avenge his frustration with her increasingly unhinged queries by responding with references to various sub-clauses in his legislation, helpfully labeling one example as “D for Dense.” Happy birthday, John.


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