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A Senate committee hearing on online poker scheduled for next week in New York will likely consider whether the poker-only bill up for discussion would perhaps better serve the state’s interests if online gambling were also included in the legislation.

The New York Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee will convene at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 9 in order “To Discuss the Future of Online Poker in New York State,” as stated on the Senate website. The public hearing can be seen on live stream. For those interested in viewing the hearing, click here on the time and date mentioned.

The committee chairman, Senator John Bonacic, is the sponsor of S 5302, a proposal to regulate online poker. Details of Bonacic’s bill will likely be spelled out and discussed at the hearing, and one particular of his proposal should be looked at quite closely by the legislators.

Online Gambling Needed

S 5302 has been introduced as poker-only legislation, meaning that online casino gaming is not included. A look at igaming revenue numbers as reported by the neighboring state of New Jersey shows that the wiser choice may be to propose legislation that includes online house-banked games such as roulette, blackjack and craps in addition to poker.

Online poker in New Jersey pulls in less than 20% of the entire igaming revenue in the state. While it may not be entirely fair to compare the two states considering that New York’s population of 20 million is more than twice that of the nine million residing in New Jersey, there is currently no other yardstick to choose from in the U.S.

New Jersey gaming regulators admitted to being shocked that online poker was not as popular as anticipated prior to launching in November 2013. New York lawmakers can certainly learn from the igaming regimes already up and running in the U.S., and the most valuable lesson thus far may be that poker-only is not the best direction to take.

Who Will Attend

Along with the committee members, a number of gambling industry stakeholders are expected to attend the Sept. 9 hearing. While a complete list of those invited to testify has not yet been released, it is known that Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas has received an invitation to lend his expertise.

It is quite early in the game for New York with regard to regulating online poker and gambling. The Empire State has been busy focusing mainly on expanding land-based casino gambling. Still in the works is a project that calls for three new casinos in upstate New York.

Bonacic mentioned previously that next week’s hearing is aimed at exploring “the pros and cons of moving” S 5302. The committee members are likely to find that advancing a poker-only bill would severely restrict potential revenue. We may see Bonacic eventually introduce igaming legislation in the future that includes online poker and casino games.

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.