Could New York become the 4th USA state to legalise online poker?

Published on June 24, 2016 in Industry News

Online poker in New YorkOnline Poker players will be glad to hear that playing your favourite strategy game might soon become legal in New York. The Senate voted on the legalization of online poker gambling this Tuesday. This is definitely a historic moment in the growth of gambling in the USA.

Bill 53 to 5 was passed at 19:30 which will allow 11 racetrack casinos to apply for licenses to hold online poker games. According to Senator John Bonacic, chair of the Senate’s racing, gaming and wagering committee, said that if the bill is approved it would make New York the fourth state that can legally play online poker games in the USA. The other three are New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada. It is illegal to play online poker in any other part of the country.

Michael Whyland, a spokesman for the Assembly Democratic Majority said that the Assembly are still expected to discuss the bill before they will decide whether they’ll vote this week. This is also the final week of the legislative session this year.

Any form of gambling is prohibited by the states’ constitution except for state lotteries, horseracing and casinos approved by the legislature. If the bill is passed,it would get around the constitution as it will classify Texas Hold-em and Omaha Hold-em as games of skill instead of games of chance.

The bill would also bring in $10 million from the 10 year licenses required to run online poker games, 15% of this would be applied to state tax which the casino owes on their gaming revenue. It will also be a legal operation according to Bonacic as anyone under 21 will be prohibited from playing.

One person who believes that it is not a good idea to pass the bill is Senator Liz Krueger who spent 30 minutes questioning Bonacic. She stated that she could not support the bill because online gambling is even more addictive than gambling at a brick and mortar casino, thanks to easier access. Krueger said, “Whether you call it gambling or not, it’s gambling”.

The owner of a few different casinos throughout the country, MGM Resorts International applauded the Senate and said that, “Creating a safe, regulated option for online poker players in New York would generate millions in new tax revenue that could be used for education and other critical investments". MGM General Counsel John McManus said that this is a sensible legislation and that it will serve as protection for New Yorkers who have played online poker on unprotected, off-shore poker websites for years. These websites generally operate with no regulation, fraud controls or age restrictions.

According to Bonacic there is a chance that the state’s racetrack casinos might partner with Las Vegas casinos to offer the internet wagering if online poker becomes legal in New York.