New York Governor’s Office Not Completely Sold On Online Poker

March 3, 2017
New York Governor’s Office Not Completely Sold On Online Poker

After steadily gaining momentum, New York’s current online poker effort ran into its first snag this week. The office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded to a question about online poker by regional reporter Andrew Whitman.

Whitman posted the response by Cuomo’s press secretary, Dani Lever, saying any online poker bill would be “reviewed very carefully.”

Interestingly, the comment was foreshadowed in an interview conducted by Whitman last week with Assemblymember J. Gary Pretlow. In that interview, Pretlow noted none of the state’s gaming interests oppose online poker legalization. However, he cited unnamed people in Cuomo’s administration as harboring concerns over the matter.

Context is key for NY online poker

Here is what Lever had to say:

In a twitter exchange, Whitman explained the context of the statement by Lever was a direct response to a question. That was a question Whitman believes may not have “gone up the food chain,” meaning the governor’s office might not have done much research into online poker at this point in time.

In this larger context, it’s easier to see how Lever’s answer is the typical political-speak non-answer.

Outlook in New York turns positive on poker

The comments from the governor’s office followed on the heels of Pretlow injecting a rather large dose of optimism into New York’s online poker chances. That is thanks to the comments the chair of the Assembly Racing, Wagering and Gaming Committee made during his interview with Whitman last week.

In the interview, Pretlow said his previous concerns about potential cheating and the technology overseeing the industry are gone. Pretlow said New Jersey’s geolocation technology impressed him:

“I took a field trip to New Jersey. We met with the attorney general down there. I went over their geolocating apparatus, and they proved to me that if someone was floating in their yacht on the Hudson River on the New Jersey side they could be playing poker; if they drift across to the New York side it would cut right out.”

Speaking about the potential for widespread cheating, “that’s not going to happen,” Pretlow said.

Pretlow went on to intimate that he would be dropping what remaining opposition to online poker he held. In doing so, he said his colleagues in the Assembly would line up behind him:

“When I do sign off on something, my colleagues feel that it is a good deal, and they don’t question why I made a certain decision. They know that if that decision was made, it was for good reasons.”

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Will the comments from the Cuomo administration have an impact?

It’s unlikely the governor would veto an online poker bill that the legislature passes. There is no real opposition from the state’s commercial casinos, which opened recently. Nor do the state’s existing tribal casinos or racinos oppose online poker. Most welcome it with open arms.

Furthermore, a similar online poker bill passed by a 53-5 margin in the Senate last year. If the Assembly support for online poker is even close to this, the legislature could override a veto.

As Pretlow told Whitman, “I don’t feel there will be much opposition to moving this along.”

Image credit: a katz /

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