In a 53 to 5 vote on Tuesday, the New York State Senate passed S05302, which if approved by the state Assembly would make online poker gambling legal in the Empire State enabling each of its 11 casinos to apply for a license to host online poker games.
New York would join New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware and become the country’s fourth state to legalize the activity if approved by the state Assembly. Before that can happen, the Assembly has to decide whether or not it will vote on it this week, which ends this year’s legislative session.
Rather than games of chance, by classifying the online games of Omaha Hold ’em and Texas Hold ’em as games of skill, the bill circumvents the state constitution’s prohibition of gambling. Only gambling on horse racing, casinos, and state lotteries approved by the Legislature is allowed by the state. Ten million dollars would purchase a 10-year license, which would be applied to a 15 percent tax the casinos would owe to the state on their revenue from online gaming. In order to participate players must be 21 years old. The bill doesn’t , however, require that the state use the revenue it receives from online gambling for education.
The state Assembly is already considering a bill that is identical to S05302, which is sponsored by Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow. Sen. John Bonacic, the Senate’s racing, gaming and wagering committee chair, was questioned by Sen. Liz Krueger for over 30 minutes on the Senate floor about the bill. Krueger said that she believes online gambling to be more addictive than casino gambling, which is why she could not support the legislation. Krueger said, “Whether you call it gambling or not, it’s gambling,” as reported by syracuse.com.
Immediately after the vote, MGM Resorts International issued a statement applauding the decision by the Senate’s. John McManus, MGM General Counsel said that by creating a safe and regulated option for online poker players in the state millions of dollars in new tax revenue will be generated, which can be used for “education and other critical investments.” He went on to say, “We applaud the Senate for passing this sensible legislation that will help protect New Yorkers who have for years played online poker on unprotected, off-shore poker websites that today operate with no regulation, fraud controls, or age restrictions.” Bonacic said that he believes that if online poker gambling is legalized in New York, a partnership may form between that state’s racetrack casinos and casinos in Las Vegas to offer internet gambling.
Another issue the state is wrestling with it whether or not to legalize daily fantasy sports, but with the legislature set to adjourn on Thursday, that may not happen for a while.