Published: June 1, 2024

New York Senator pushes for online poker legislation amid broader gambling expansion efforts

As the legislative session in New York approaches its conclusion, Sen. Joseph Addabbo has introduced a bill to legalize online poker in the state, marking another attempt in a long history of efforts to regulate the activity. This move comes a decade after Asm. Gary Pretlow first introduced a similar bill that never made it out of committee.

Sen. Addabbo's proposal, Senate Bill S9226, seeks to specifically legalize internet poker, updating previous language to focus solely on “internet poker,” including modalities such as Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hold’em.

“I introduced the bill to basically ... update the bill, language-wise, to more specifically say iPoker, limiting it to those who only do poker currently, which are licensed casinos,” Addabbo explained to PlayNY.

He noted that the bill was introduced to gauge legislative and public interest. Despite being filed late in the session, making it improbable for the proposal to pass, the bill has generated some support from Addabbo’s constituents, more so than previous efforts to legalize broader casino gaming.

“About time” was the sentiment shared by supporters, according to Addabbo. He highlighted that interest in online poker is growing, which could help build momentum for future legislative efforts. He added that support for this proposal was “more so, really, than the iGaming” bill.

Addabbo’s push for online poker follows his ongoing efforts to legalize casinos in New York. He has been an advocate for expanding gambling options in the state, inspired by the successes seen in neighboring states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Earlier this year, Addabbo’s broader iGaming bill was left out of the state budget, but this setback has not deterred him from continuing to seek legislative advancements in gambling. Thus, the next step was introducing the online poker bill.

“When we saw that iGaming was not going forward because certain people in the industry, I guess, had questions or concerns – which I still think could be overcome – there was an iPoker bill that was sort of outdated,” Addabbo told PlayNY. “The actual language, I think, said online gaming. I didn’t want it to be confused with what we’re trying to push, which is online gaming with casino games.”

By legalizing online poker, the state hopes to cut into the illegal market and generate revenue that is currently lost to unregulated activities. “You look to build upon mobile sports betting and its success,” Addabbo noted. “You look for opportunities where New York is lagging behind, where New York is losing money to other states.”

Even though the chances of the bill passing this session are slim, Addabbo remains optimistic about future efforts. He sees the introduction of the bill as an important step in the right direction.

“I wouldn’t be frustrated at all,” he said, referring to the possibility of online poker being legalized before broader iGaming. “It would be some type of advancement in an area where the state is losing money to other states. I’d be encouraged by it, really.”

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