New York is already on everyone’s shortlist of candidates to legalize online poker in 2018 and the Empire State’s odds of passing an online poker bill have likely improved now that Pennsylvania has joined Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey as online gaming states.
Close but no cigar in 2016 and 2017
The New York legislature has taken a serious look at the legalization of online poker in each of the last two years. And unlike efforts in other states, the bills were anything but idle.
Both efforts came up short, as the Assembly never voted on either bill, and the legislative clock ran out on the bills.
This time online poker won’t be starting from square one
The good news is, online poker legislation will already be close to the finish line when the New York legislature returns to Albany in January.
A new policy adopted by the New York legislature last year allows active bills to “carry-over” to the next year, provided it’s in the same legislative term.
That means the bill that passed the Senate in 2017 will pick up where it left off; in the Assembly Codes Committee.
The gatekeeper in the Assembly on all things gaming is Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, and he told Online Poker Report in June, the new policy could lead to more legislative movement earlier in the session:
“Part of the reason nothing happens in the early part of the session is we have to get committees up and running again and start from scratch,” Pretlow said. “That will not be the case here. I hope to address the bill in February.”
Pretlow reprised his role as a heel this week when he told Gambling Compliance’s Chris Krafcik that Pennsylvania would have zero impact on what happens in New York.
Why 2018 could be different
Despite what Pretlow says (and based on the validity of his previous remarks it’s clear these comments should be taken with a grain of salt), two important developments in the US online poker market could help push New York lawmakers to take action and pass an online poker bill in 2018:
- The interstate online poker agreement between New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware.
- The legalization of online poker in Pennsylvania.
On October 13, New Jersey announced it would be joining the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association (MSIGA) created by Nevada and Delaware. When the three states pool their online poker players, traffic will increase by 40 percent.
Two weeks later, on October 26, the Pennsylvania legislature legalized online poker as part of a comprehensive gaming reform bill it passed. Governor Tom Wolf signed the bill into law on Monday.
When Pennsylvania’s legal online poker sites go live the number of US residents with access to legal online poker will instantly double to 25 million.
That means that rather than joining an online poker market of around 12 million players country-wide, New York could join an online poker market of over 25 million. Further, it’s very likely that all of those states will be part of the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association, and sharing their player pools.
With New York, the five states would be drawing from a player pool of 45 million. That’s a number larger than the Golden Goose that is California, and yes Assemblyman Pretlow, that should have some impact on New York’s online poker efforts.