Late last week, Senator John Bonacic of New York revived efforts to legalize online poker in the state by introducing S-3898. The measure would amend current laws of the state to allow certain interactive poker games which would include Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hold’em, Bonacic is the chairman of the Senate’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering committee of which the bill has been referred to.
Bonacic introduced a similar bill last year, S-5302, but was unsuccessful. The bill was able to pass through the state Senate towards the end of the 2015-2016 legislative session but was not voted on by the state Assembly. This new measure, S-3898, would allow as many as 11 online poker licenses to be obtained with licensees obligated to already operate a class III gaming venue or video lottery gaming. Such operators will have to partner with a vendor for the technology aspect of online poker with the third party having to pass certain ‘suitability’ hurdles.
The license holders of online poker would have to pay a fee of $10 million, a one-time fee that will be used for future tax obligations of operators of 15% gross gaming revenues. An online poker license will be valid for 10 years. The state would also be allowed to cut liquidity sharing deals with other states that offer online gambling. As of right now, this would include Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada, though only Nevada and Delaware have been involved in liquidity sharing.
It is assumed that the new bill will move quickly through the Senate but it is unclear if the bill will move forward in the Assembly. Gary Pretlow, the chair of the Assembly gaming committee met in the fall of 2016 meeting with officials at the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and learned first-hand of regulatory and oversight procedures used there. About a year ago, Pretlow introduced online poker bill AB9049.