New York’s Efforts to Legalize Online Poker

by , Apr 26, 2014 | 6:26 pm

The New York Senate considered legalizing online poker last year. They withdrew their proposal when they failed to gain support from lawmakers in the State Assembly. However, many senators are still committed to regulating online poker.

Sen. John Bonacic has recently introduced a bill that would allow gaming providers to offer certain types of poker games unlike the NJ online casino games offered by the garden state. Bonacic is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering. He intends to use his position to advocate for more liberal online gambling laws.

The state’s gaming laws list poker as a game of skill, rather than a game of chance. Bonacic’s bill would reclassify online poker as a game of skill, which would make it legal to offer within state borders.

The senator is using precedent from a federal case in 2012 to support his claim. Federal District Court Judge Jack Weinstein ruled that online poker was a game of skill, which meant that it doesn’t violate gaming laws. Weinstein’s ruling was ultimately overturned by the Appeals Court, but the court didn’t dispute his opinion that poker was a game of skill. This precedent gives Bonacic a strong argument that may encourage members of the Assembly to support his law.

Bonacic said that his new bill would help the state generate millions in new taxes. Gaming providers would need to pay $10 million to receive an online gaming license. They would also need to pay a 15% tax on all gaming revenue.

The bill also has a number of safeguards to limit the social risks of online poker. It includes a bad actors clause that would prevent any site that violated the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act from offering online poker in New York.

John Pappas, the head of the Poker Player’s Alliance, is encouraged by the new bill. However, he said that the Assembly hasn’t introduced a similar bill, which means that it may be difficult to pass it. Pappas said the gaming community shouldn’t be too optimistic until they see how other lawmakers respond to Bonacic’s proposals.

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