New York Online Poker

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Path to legal online poker in New York

New York is set to undergo sweeping changes to its land-based gambling landscape.

In November 2013, voters backed a constitutional amendment allowing for the construction of up to seven commercial casinos to join the five tribal-run casinos and numerous slot parlors already present in the state.

Just over two years later, the State Gaming Commission granted licenses to three upstate casinos: the $1.3 billion Montreign, Lago Resort & Casino and Rivers Casino – all of which are expected to open their doors to the public in 2017.

A bid for a fourth license is currently pending, while the remaining three licenses are subject to a seven-year hold. The same hold applies to the construction of commercial casinos in New York City.

The Empire State has been active on the online gambling front as well. Legislation was first introduced in 2014 by State Senator Senator John Bonacic. This was followed by S5302 in 2015, also introduced by Bonacic.

However, the bill was seen more as a conversation starter than one that had a legitimate chance of becoming law. A more serious push began in January 2016 when Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow put forth A9049, while Bonacic revitalized the structurally identical S5302.

The bills allow for up to 10 licenses to be issued for online poker sites, call for a 15 percent tax on gross gaming revenue and define poker as a game of skill. There is no so-called “bad actor” clause and the $10 million license fee would be offset against taxes paid during the first three years of operation.

Interstate pooling with states that also support regulated online poker would be allowed, functioning similar to the compact between Nevada and Delaware. Online casino games would not be authorized as part of the bill.

S5302 passed out of two committees before being sent to the Senate floor, where it passed by a 53-5 margin. Unfortunately, the bill stalled in the Assembly, leaving proponents to turn their efforts to 2017.

New York online poker FAQ

Why is New York considering legalizing online poker?

Millions of New Yorkers play on unregulated online poker sites that operate without basic consumer protections. Legalization of the game will provide a safe environment for players, while generating significant revenue for state coffers.

Due to this, the bills have gained widespread support from powerful casino lobbyists and a bevy of legislators.

When can players expect a bill to pass?

New York fell just short of the finish line in 2016, instead opting to approve a daily fantasy sports bill. It would surprise if the state doesn’t authorize regulated online poker in 2017.

Would New York offer online casino games?

The current bills would only legalize online poker games.

Would New York enter into to pooling agreements with other states?

New York is open to the idea of multi-jurisdictional compacts with other states that have issued licenses and adhere to suitability standards as per the provisions of the legislation.

It’s likely that New York will follow through on interstate compacts with New Jersey, as this will boost its player pool by approximately 50 percent.

Should New York legalize online poker, how long will it take for sites to get up and running?

Under the current bill, licenses cannot be issued until 180 days after regulations are put into effect. This is to ensure a competitive environment for operators.

All told, it would probably take up to a year from the time a bill was passed for sites to get up and running.

Would out-of-state players be able to wager on New York online poker sites?

Appropriate safeguards will be instituted to ensure that players are physically located in either the state of New York or a state New York has entered a compact with. However, players do not need a New York address to play on a state-regulated online poker site.

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