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The online poker hearing before a New York Senate committee that took place about 10 days ago was overwhelmingly positive, leading to speculation regarding what to expect on the prospects for ipoker regulation in 2016.

Although the the September 9 hearing was poorly attended by members of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, it was a good starting point for perhaps building momentum toward more serious discussions on the issue when the new year rolls around.

Committee chairman Sen. John Bonacic, the sponsor of S 5302 – the poker-only legislation that was the focal point of the hearing – has already let it be known that he intends to make changes to the bill. According to OnlinePokerNY.com, Bonacic plans to consult his fellow lawmakers and make modifications to the proposal in time for additional ipoker hearings that may begin perhaps as early as next spring.

The Issues

Some issues likely to be considered include partnerships between land-based casinos and online gaming operators, licensing fees and the length of time before expiration, and perhaps whether or not to include online casino gaming in the modified bill as opposed to the poker-only legislation as S 5302 is currently written.

Of course, New York lawmakers are still focusing their attention on the expansion of land-based gambling. The details regarding three and maybe four new casinos in upstate New York are still being ironed out, with some NY lawmakers content to wait on online poker and gambling regulation until the brick and mortar establishments are welcoming gamblers and accepting wagers, which is at least a couple years down the road.

In any event, progress was made this year toward ipoker regulation in the Empire State and all signs point to even more movement in 2016. OnlinePokerNY.com suggests that two and possibly three ipoker regulation hearings will be held next year, topping the lone meeting of 2015 held earlier this month.

Opposing Forces

Those meetings will likely include the anti-igaming crowd, a faction not invited to provide testimony at the Sept. 9 hearing. You can bet that Sheldon Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) will be heard from in New York when online poker discussions take on a more serious tone.

Adelson has continued his attempts to thwart the spread of online gaming in the U.S. and we can expect no different in New York. Whether those previous efforts have been successful is a matter of speculation and debate.

Remember that no states have launched igaming regimes in almost two years. But the reasons for the slowdown are many, with the CSIG only one obstacle in the way. Getting legislation approved is typically a long, drawn out process in any state, even without a billionaire spending huge amounts of cash trying to stop it.

The approval of online poker regulation in New York in 2016 remains a longshot, with many industry observers being of the opinion that 2017 might be a better bet. However, longshots do come in from time to time.

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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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