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VIDEO: New York Online Poker Bill Advances

Senate Finance Commitee Has Online Poker In Its Hands

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A bill to legalize and regulate real-money online poker in the Empire State advanced out of the Senate’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Sen. John Bonacic, sponsor of the legislation, told Card Player that there wasn’t any discussion on the proposal Tuesday. The legislation had a robust hearing in September. Thanks to Tuesday’s vote, the bill moves to the Senate’s Finance Committee for further consideration.

The vote Tuesday, which was unanimous, was “pro forma,” according to Bonacic’s office.

Still, it was a positive step for the state, as well as the fledgling U.S. online poker industry. The Poker Players Alliance applauded the results.

“The PPA thanks Chairman John Bonacic and the Committee for acting quickly to pass iPoker legislation through the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering," PPA executive director John Pappas said. “If passed into law, the bill would provide New Yorkers who play poker online with a safe and regulated environment, while bringing in revenue for the state. We encourage the Finance Committee to move quickly to usher the legislation through the Senate.”

There is a companion bill in the New York Assembly that also would lead to regulated online poker. The PPA said it “also urge[s] the Assembly to move forward” with the bill.

At the hearing last year, there was testimony that indicated New York might not go ahead with online casino games prior to the opening of its new brick-and-mortar casinos, which were authorized by the legislature to help struggling upstate economies. The PPA said it would be a “mistake for New York to wait.” Neighboring Pennsylvania is also considering online poker.

The New York online poker market could be worth more than $120 million in the first 12 months after launch, according to testimony at September’s hearing. Both proposals on the table are eyeing a tax rate of 15 percent on online poker operators, who would also have to pay $10 million for a 10-year license. Up to 10 licenses could be awarded.

Below is a video of the short Tuesday hearing: