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New York Online Poker Legalization This Summer?

Report Says Lawmaker Thinks Bill Could Pass In June

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It hasn’t been California or Pennsylvania grabbing the most attention on the online poker front this month. The state of New York, which has flirted with regulating the online card game for a few years now, appears poised for a real run in 2016.

There is already stand-alone online poker legislation on the table, and the proposal is also part of a possible budget deal. The state’s current urgency with regards to daily fantasy sports legislation could speed up the process of getting online poker approved, whether on its own or in an omnibus measure. Both DFS and poker stand to benefit from being skill-based games.

New York authorized a few new brick-and-mortar casinos in order to help struggling upstate economies, and it was said at an online poker hearing last year that bringing the card game to the Internet likely wouldn’t happen until the new casinos are built. However, that might not be the case anymore. According to a report from GamblingCompliance, one of the online poker proponents in the Empire State’s legislature said there might be motivation to get it done this year.

Assembly Member Gary Pretlow, Chairman of the New York Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee, told GamblingCompliance: “If I can get assurances that the brick-and-mortar operations are all a part of it, then we will probably move the bill this year.”

Another indicator that New York might be ready to regulate an online casino game is the fact that on Tuesday the State Assembly passed a bill legalizing mixed martial arts, which is expected to be signed by the governor. New York would be the last state in the country to legalize MMA. As The New York Times pointed out, the state is warming to activities that it once viewed as illicit.

New York was the state where the Black Friday indictments from the federal government came from, resulting in the top poker sites leaving American cyberspace in 2011.

Additionally, neighboring New Jersey, which has a booming online gambling industry, will be holding a referendum in November on whether to end Atlantic City’s casino monopoly. If the referendum passes, new casinos could be built close to New York City and potentially take revenue away from New York’s soon-to-be beefed up casino gambling industry.

Collectively, roughly $1.5 billion is being spent on new casinos in the Empire State, which currently has nine racetrack casinos and five tribal casinos. The Northeast region is already home to more than 40 casinos and racinos, and New York wants a greater piece of the pie. New York said its residents spend $1 billion each year at out-of-state casinos. Online poker could help it remain competitive, especially as Pennsylvania also is closing in on Internet casino games.

The New York online poker market could be worth more than $120 million in the first 12 months after launch, according to industry estimates. If the peer-to-peer poker would end up being that large in New York, it would be roughly five times the size of the market in New Jersey. Online poker revenue in New Jersey is roughly $2 million a month, as the other online casino games bring in the majority of the overall I-gaming revenue, though that could change thanks to the launch of PokerStars in New Jersey. New York has more than double the population of New Jersey.