Bill Introduced for Online Poker in New York; Live Poker Additions Also Possible

January 18, 2023
Bill Introduced for Online Poker in New York; Live Poker Additions Also Possible

Could legalized online poker be coming to New York? That may be on state legislators’ agenda after a bill was filed this week in the assembly.

The proposed legislation (A01380) would legalize online poker within the state. New York would become the largest legalized online poker state. with a population of almost 20 million.

In other poker-related legislation, another bill (A01580) introduced would also legalize live poker at businesses that serve alcoholic beverages. The bill would amend the state’s alcoholic beverage control law.

Is online poker heading to New York?

It’s no secret that some New York legislators are in favor of legalized online poker. State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. (D) is a major supporter of legalized online poker and casino gaming. He spoke with in late 2022 about his plans.

Addabbo said he has supporters for a bill in state government including Gov. Kathy Hochul (D).

“They know me to just be rational in terms of what we’re trying to promote here: the jobs, the revenue funding, the educational funding, the addiction issues,” Addabbo said of working with colleagues. “All I use is facts and figures. They know we can have a rational conversation, I hear their concerns. Many of their concerns sometimes get incorporated into the statutory language, and they’re thankful that we include them.”

Another of those supporting colleagues is Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow (D). He is the sponsor of the new bill. New York would become the eighth state allowing online poker, although two haven’t seen an operator launch yet. Here are the states offering legalized, regulated online poker.

Details on the New York online poker bill

Pretlow’s legislation calls for allowing “certain interactive poker games be considered games of skill rather than games of luck.” The bill specifically defines Texas Hold’em and Omaha as games of skill in outlining what would be allowed if approved.

“These games are considered to be complex forms of poker which involve player strategy and decision- making, and which pit the skill levels of the players against each other,” the bill notes, “As games of skill, these forms of poker do not fall under the definition of gambling as prohibited by the penal law.”

Pretlow’s plans spell out player protections and the need for players to be located within the state to play. A few other caveats include:

  • creating regulations for the industry within 180 days of the bill officially becoming law
  • authorizing up to 11 licenses to gaming entities within the state
  • gaming companies may partner with other online poker operators
  • licenses would remain in effect for 10 years
  • the legal age to play would be 21
  • providing safeguards to minimize compulsive gaming

Many players in the Empire State, as well as those in other legalized states, may be interested to see that interstate compacts could also be entered into.

“The commission, by regulation, may authorize and promulgate any rules necessary to implement agreements with other states … to enable patrons in those states to participate in interactive gaming offered by licensees under this article,” the bill notes, “or to enable patrons in this state to participate in interactive gaming offered by licensees under the laws of those other states, provided that such other state or authorized agency applies suitability standards and review materially consistent with the provisions of this article.”

More work to do

Adding New York to any interstate compact would be a major boost to player and prize pools. But a simple introduction of a bill doesn’t mean online poker would go live in the state anytime soon. 

Any bill would first have to go to committee before heading to the assembly for debate. Changes to the bill could also come along in the process.

The state senate would also have to approve the plan before heading to the governor’s desk. However, the introduction of a bill at least starts the process.

New York has also been willing to expand gaming in recent years, which may provide some insight. That includes the addition of mobile and online sports betting, which went live in January 2022. This had led to considerable revenue for state coffers.

Live poker could also expand

Online poker players may not be the only ones benefiting from a change in New York law. A bill introduced by Assemblyman David Weprin (D) would allow more facilities to offer live poker.

The bill “allows any person who holds a license to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on premises to allow players to engage in certain recreational contests.”

Those recreation contests include “playing cards, penny poker, cribbage, and dominoes.” The bill amends alcoholic beverage law to allow “for these activities to be conducted in establishments such as the local tavern or pub would provide a place for individuals like senior citizens to recreate.”

The rules bar the property from receiving any funds from these games or employees from participating. That means players can expect games similar to some California card clubs where players run and deal the games themselves.

While the bill stipulates allowing “penny poker,” the wording doesn’t spell out exactly what that implies. No betting limits or parameters are mentioned.

However the news of the two bills may be welcome news to New York poker players. It appears some state legislators may be working for significant additions for the state’s players to grab a seat at the tables.

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