New York Introduces Second Online Poker Bill

Legislation Introduced Into The Assembly Without A 'Bad Actor' Clause, Joins Senate Bill Introduced Last Month

New York Assemblyman Gary Pretlow submitted another piece of legislation to legalize online poker in the Empire State.

Pretlow, the chairman of the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, introduced A 4924 to the state assembly last week. It’s the second piece of online poker legislation filed this year by the state’s lawmakers. Sen. Joseph Addabbo introduced SB 18 to the state Senate last month.

Outside of one key difference, the two bills are very similar. Addabbo’s bill has a ‘bad actor’ clause in it and Pretlow’s more recent bill does not. Addabbo’s bill would likely keep some of the bigger companies in the online poker space, such as PokerStars, out of New York.

Both bills seek to reclassify poker as a game of skill instead of a game of chance and would ask operators to pay a one-time $10 million application fee. By reclassifying poker as a game of skill, the state legislature would bypass the need for an amendment to the state constitution.

Pretlow’s bill also contains language that would make it easier for the state to join interstate compacts for online poker, like what New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware currently have. The recent reversal on the Wire Act from the Department of Justice could put the brakes on any new compacts coming in the near future, however.

Pretlow has been one of New York’s most staunch supporters of online gambling. He has either introduced himself, or supported legislation that would legalize online gambling every year for the last several years.

Historically, the bills easily pass the Senate, but have been unable to garner enough support to pass the Assembly. Most industry insiders consider this bill to have a similar fate.

An additional factor working against the passage of Pretlow’s bill is another bill in the legislature. Last month, Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal introduced a bill which would call for the state’s gaming commission to conduct a study on the extent that its citizens gamble. The study would stretch out for several years and would serve as a tool for anti-gambling lawmakers to hold off on online gambling until the results come in.

Governor Andrew Cuomo hasn’t made a statement either way on his online poker stances. 
He did, however, throw his full support behind sports betting in the state’s upstate casinos. His support was the driving force behind the state’s gaming commission passing regulations for the industry last month.