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New York State Senate Finance Committee Advances Online Poker Bill

The ongoing battle to legalize online poker in the state of New York has made a small but significant advancement. On Tuesday 9th of May, the state Senate Finance Committee passed the online poker bill S 3898 by a voice vote of 27 to 9, leaving it in the hands of the full Senate.

While this is good news, online poker players of New York should hold off from any celebrations yet, as there are still many hurdles to overcome before New York can become the fourth most populous US state to fully legalize and regulate Online Poker.

Just as a reminder, the online poker industry in New York were quick to rejoice after a similar bill was past last year by the full Senate by an overwhelmingly supportive 53-5 margin. That, however, quickly came to a stop, as the Assembly never even gave the bill any consideration, and ended up without a single vote by the end of the 2016 legislative session.

Not to say there’s no hope this time round either, as Sen. John Bonacic, the bill’s sponsor, remains optimistic that this time it’s ready to pass.

The next challenge will be getting the Assembly to approve, which as mentioned before, simply ignored the Senate approved bill altogether. Things look better this time around as Assemblyman J.Gary Pretlow shows support by telling reporters in February of 2017:

“I don’t really see there’s going to be much opposite to moving (online poker legislation) along”

He further showed his support by saying that all his previous concerns in regards to legalizing online poker were laid to rest after a fact-finding trip to New Jersey and that he is now fully behind the bill this time round.

“When I do sign off on something, my colleagues feel that it is a good deal and they don’t question why I made a certain decision,” Pretlow said. “They know that if that decision was made, it’s for good reason.”

More support from Assemblyman K. Gary Pretlow, Chairman of the Committee on Racing and Wagering

One of the reasons why Online Poker bill had struggled to get fully approved in the past years was because there were concerns about new gambling expansions before the state’s new casinos are opened, introducing more competition before the doors were even opened. But now that 3 of the 4 State’s Las Vegas-style commercial casinos are already opened, with the last one scheduled to open in early 2018, there’s one less reason to oppose the bill. Especially since the poker bill classifies poker as a game of skill, it’s possible online poker could lead to even more live poker, benefiting both land based tribal and commercial casinos.

“I didn’t want to put competition in there before they even opened their doors,” he said. “All four casinos have said they don’t have a problem with the state offering online poker—and the seven racinos are also eligible to be in partnership with organizations that handle online poker.” said Pretlow in February