Passing by a vote of 54-8, the online poker bill, S 3898, was approved by the New York State Senate on Tuesday.
Sponsored by Sen. John Bonacic, the bill, for the second consecutive year, seeks to legalize and regulate online poker within New York State borders on the grounds that it’s a game of skill. While future support remains uncertain, the measure now heads to the Assembly, where just last year, similar poker bills were dismissed.
According to the Online Poker Report, S 3898 is not dissimilar to online gambling bills that have been introduced in other states. Some of the elements include:
- Players must be within the borders of New York and be at least 21 years of age.
- The measure would allow interstate agreements with other states.
- The responsibility of crafting regulations and oversight would fall to the state gaming commission.
- Operators would be authorized to contract with online gambling companies and utilize their online gaming software.
Online operators would be taxed by the state of New York at a rate of 15 percent of gross gaming revenue.
Some New York-specific elements include:
- The New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) would be authorized by the bill to award as many as 11 online poker licenses.
- Licenses are not limited to in-state business, unlike other bills looking to legalize online gambling.
- S 3898 states that applicants can be, “Current licensed operators of video lottery gaming in New York or from states with similar licensing requirements,” provided the NYSG approves them.
And while the $10 million up-front licensing fee is hefty, the state lessens the load by paying for future taxes owed.
After his bill was passed, Senator Bonacic offered the following statement: “Presently, numerous New York residents are participating in illegal, unregulated and unsafe gaming operations over the Internet.” The New York Senator added: “This bill serves two main purposes in allowing New Yorkers access to regulated online poker while providing critical consumer protections and increasing revenues to the state for education and taxes via operator licenses. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Assembly to see that this bill passes both houses before the end of session.” bill passes both houses before the end of session.”
Just as the clock was running down on the legislative session, on June 5, Sen. Bonacic introduced an amendment to the bill. The amendment added strict “bad actor” and tainted asset language to the bill, which targets online operators that remained in the US market after the 2006 passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The amendment likely spells trouble for PokerStars, which along with Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker, were indicted for violating the UIGEA in 2011 after having allegedly attempted to circumvent rules of the 2006 Act.
In addition to New York, Pennsylvania and llinois are also seriously considering legalizing and regulating online poker this year.