As expected, an online poker bill in the New York Senate advanced last week after a quick committee vote. The Empire State will try for the third time in as many years to regulate real-money card games played over the internet within its borders.
The Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, which includes the bill’s sponsor, voted nearly unanimously to send the measure to the Senate Finance Committee, which the proposal is also expected to clear. There is little issue with the online poker legislation in the Senate, as lawmakers in the New York Assembly have so far appeared reluctant to sign off.
The man spearheading the bill, Republican State Senator John Bonacic, expects the measure to clear the Senate again in 2018. It’s future in the other legislative chamber remains uncertain, as the Assembly has never voted on an online poker bill.
“There are many media reports that the [commercial] casinos aren’t meeting their revenue expectations,” Bonacic said at the meeting last Tuesday. “This would be another tool in their toolbox to enhance revenues, if we allowed them to do it. This will be the third time that the Senate has passed this bill, and I know Assemblyman [Gary] Pretlow, who chairs the Racing and Wagering [Committee] in the Assembly, is supportive of the bill. I know he will continue to use his best efforts to move it in the Assembly.”
The bill’s prospects in 2018 could be boosted by the brick-and-mortars in another way. New York is on the final leg of its casino expansion. The $1.2 billion Resorts World Catskills casino is expected to open for business Feb. 8, the last of the Las Vegas-style casinos that were approved in 2013. There was talk in past public discussions that New York would not move on internet poker until all four of the new commercial casinos are open to gamblers.
New York found its residents were spending $1 billion a year at casinos in neighboring states.
Another reason why this could finally be the year for New York is Pennsylvania’s move to legalize online gambling late last year. New York could find online gaming to be an attractive move to keep its casinos competitive. New Jersey also has internet betting.
Unlike New Jersey and Pennsylvania, New York is only considering online poker.