A key New York state politician has signaled he’s willing to throw his support behind legalizing online poker, significantly boosting the chances of legislative success in 2017.
In an interview with FIOS1News’ Andrew Whitman (watch part one here, part two here), Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow (pictured), who chairs the Assembly’s Committee on Racing and Wagering, said that “if New Yorkers are going to participate with online poker, I want to make sure that it’s the fairest it can possibly be.”
Pretlow introduced an online poker bill earlier this month that seeks to define poker as a game of skill, which would sidestep the state constitution’s restrictions on authorizing gambling games based on chance. Similar legislation was filed in the state Senate in January by Sen. John Bonacic.
Pretlow’s unwillingness to bring an online poker bill up for a floor vote in the Assembly effectively killed the state’s chances of approving the activity last year. Pretlow claimed at the time that there was insufficient support in the Assembly for online poker passage but now says “I don’t really see there’s going to be much opposition to moving [online poker legislation] along.”
However, Pretlow cautioned that “there are some individuals in the administration that are really opposed to this” based on concerns that online poker would make it “too easy for people to gamble.” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to publicly state his position on the online poker issue.
Before introducing his poker bill, Pretlow said he’d cleared the idea with operators of the state’s four new brick-and-mortar casinos and the seven racetracks currently offering slot machines. Do the math and you’ll understand why both Pretlow and Bonacic’s bills allow for 11 possible online poker licenses.
Pretlow also said he’d “like to see” the state authorize live cardroom poker at the casinos and racinos, although he was unwilling to support standalone cardrooms based on his belief that the activity should be kept to a minimum number of locations.
New York’s current legislative session concludes on June 21. Bonacic’s bill recently cleared a committee vote, and since the Senate overwhelmingly approved his 2016 effort, a positive floor vote in 2017 appears a foregone conclusion.
In addition to New York, Pennsylvania is on the cusp of authorizing online gambling this year but the federal government is giving off signals that it could act to roll back the 2011 Department of Justice opinion that allowed states to decide whether to authorize online gambling within their borders. Meaning all this positive legislative momentum could amount to making beds in a burning house.