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Advocates of regulated online poker in the U.S. will be pleased to know that the New York Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee will hold a hearing regarding ipoker regulation next month.

new-yorkThe hearing will be held at the behest of Senator John Bonacic, who proposed online poker legislation (S 5302) in May that has yet to gain any traction. The bill will get a look-see by the committee, which happens to be chaired by Bonacic. As of this writing, no specific hearing date has been confirmed, but more than likely it will follow the Labor Day holiday.

According to Gambling Compliance, the September hearing will be exploratory and to gather information, as the New York State legislature still must take the necessary first steps down the long and winding path of a bill eventually becoming law. Industry observers are overwhelmingly in agreement that the Empire State’s chances of passing ipoker legislation in 2015 are practically nil, but doing so in 2016 remains a possibility.

Who’s invited

Expected to be in attendance at the hearing alongside lawmakers are various stakeholders in the gambling industry.

“I’m bringing in Caesars and MGM plus all of my casinos, racinos and OTBs,” Bonacic stated. “We are going to have a discussion on the pros and cons of moving the legislation.”
That legislation has not yet moved mainly because New York has been concentrating on land-based gambling expansion. Licenses for three new upstate casinos were recommended by the Gaming Facility Location Board last December. Once that project is further along, it is quite likely that New York legislators will take a more serious approach to regulating online poker.

A 2014 study by MGM Resorts indicated that New Yorkers love their online poker, to the tune of perhaps upwards of $100 million annually. But projections regarding possible ipoker revenue must be tempered, especially since the neighboring state of New Jersey missed the mark completely when it came time to match reality with expectations.

Interstate partnerships please

playing cardsWith a population of just under 20 million, New York ranks third in the nation behind only California and Texas. And should New York see fit to eventually partner up with Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey to increase liquidity, you have a viable regulated online poker regime that would likely attract and prompt more states to climb aboard.

Bonacic’s S 5302 is poker-only legislation, as was a similar bill (S 6913)  that he volleyed last year. The tax rate he proposes is set at 15% of GGR (gross gaming revenue), along with a $10 million licensing fee over a 10-year period. A cap on the number of licenses issued is fixed at 10.

Bad actor language has been omitted from S 5302, which would seemingly give PokerStars an opportunity to enter the market. And whether or not poker-only is the direction that New York lawmakers eventually take will certainly be debated at length, perhaps not at the September hearing, but in the future.

Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.

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