New York got its second online poker bill in as many weeks, although it remains to be seen if the will exists to push the measures over the top in 2017.
On Tuesday, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (pictured) filed A5250, which would “allow certain interactive poker games to be considered games of skill rather than games of luck,” thereby sidestepping the state constitution’s restrictions on gambling expansion.
Pretlow’s bill is identical to the S03898 bill filed in the state senate last week by Sen. John Bonacic, who chairs the Senate’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee. Each bill would allow for 11 online poker licensees, with upfront license fees of $10m apiece that would be credited against future tax obligations of 15% of gross gaming revenue.
Both Bonacic and Pretlow filed online poker bills in the previous legislative session, and Bonacic’s measure cleared a floor vote with ease, garnering 53 votes in favor versus just five votes opposed. But the bill ultimately died of neglect, primarily due to Pretlow’s belief that there wasn’t enough support in the Assembly to bother bringing his own online poker bill up for debate.
Pretlow has blown hot and cold on the online poker issue, casting doubt on poker’s reputation as a skill game while voicing concerns about the inability of poker sites to detect cheating. But Pretlow appeared to have softened his stance in an interview last month, indicating that a trip to observe New Jersey’s regulated online gambling operations in action had set his mind at ease on some scores.
Regardless, the same interview saw Pretlow maintaining that there was still “a lot of resistance’ in the Assembly to further expansion of gambling. The past few years have seen the state authorize a raft of new brick-and-mortar casinos, while the legislature cleared a legal path for daily fantasy sports operators last summer.
So while the Senate can reasonably be expected to follow its previously established path to legalizing online poker, much will depend on how much political capital Pretlow chooses to spend to get his fellow Assembly members behind his poker bill. Watch this space.