US Online Poker Roundup: The Latest In NY, Michigan And Illinois

Martin Derbyshire June 15, 2018 1781 Reads
US Online Poker

In October 2017, Pennsylvania became the fourth US state to legalize online poker. Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware were the first three.

The regulatory and licensing process is still ongoing in PA. The state’s 13 casino license holders have been invited to apply for licenses. The first online poker sites will likely launch sometime in the fourth quarter of 2018 or early next year.

Online poker advocates were hopeful Pennsylvania would help create a cascade of other states passing similar legislation across the country. That hasn’t happened just yet. However, four states have been considering legalizing online poker this year.

Here’s a look at the latest regarding online poker legislation in Michigan, New York, Illinois and Connecticut:

Michigan

In the last day of its legislative session this week, the Michigan House passed the Lawful Internet Gaming Act. It got through by a vote of 68-40. It will now head to the Senate for approval in the Fall session.

Michigan’s Lawful Internet Gaming Act will allow casinos in the state to offer internet gambling. This includes online poker, online casinos and sports betting operations.

If it passes in the Senate, and is signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder, Detroit’s three commercial casino operations could launch operations as early as next year. Each would be asked to pay an application and five-year licensing fee of $800,000.

Michigan’s 23 tribal casinos would also be permitted to launch online gambling websites. However, they would first have to change existing compacts with the state, or create new ones.

The state would charge an eight-percent tax on all online gambling revenue. The law would also include a provision allowing Michigan to sign interstate compacts. This includes the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association agreement. This is the agreement that allows New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware to share online poker player pools.

New York

New York lawmakers are taking another last-minute run at passing online poker legislation.

In the first week of June, an online poker finally passed through the Senate Finance Committee and moved on to the Rules Committee. It’s the same bill that has sat dormant in the state Senate since January.

The New York Senate has passed similar legislation the past two years. However, it died in the Assembly.

New York’s legislative session will end on June 20. Lawmakers have been busy trying to put together sports betting legislation before it wraps up.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says a sports betting bill is not likely to pass before the end of the session. He says there isn’t enough time.

The Senate may very well pass the online poker legislation before the session ends. However, it will likely die in the Assembly for the third year in a row.

The combining of online poker and sports betting legislation could be what online poker needs to change its fate in New York. However, it remains unclear if there are any members of the House or Senate willing to do that.

Illinois

For the second year in a row, Illinois lawmakers tried to tack online gambling, online poker and daily fantasy sports amendments onto a land-based casino expansion bill. Just like last year, they did it heading into the summer recess. However, this year, sports betting was added on as well.

The legislation authorizes the construction of a casino in Chicago. It would also legalize online casinos, online poker, daily fantasy sports, and sports betting.

The 2017 legislative session saw the Illinois Senate pass the bill. However, it died in the House.

At the end of May this year, the bill got through Illinois House Gaming Subcommittee. However, it failed to pass the Illinois House Executive Committee. A majority 5-4 vote in the House Executive Committee was not enough to meet it’s required six-vote threshold.

The online gambling, daily fantasy sports, and sports betting amendments in the bill are nothing more than placeholders at this point, with no regulatory details.

The bill will be back on lawmaker’s agendas after the November elections, giving those behind it time to craft legislation and drum up support. Assuming they are re-elected.

Connecticut

Connecticut lawmakers failed to get online gambling and sports betting bill past the finish line before its legislative session came to an end on May 9.

The bill would have legalized online poker, online casinos and sports betting in a state where gambling is, for the most part, run by two gaming tribes.

Part the reason the bill didn’t pass is the tribes’ argument they have exclusive rights to sports betting under current gaming compacts with the state. Connecticut’s off-track betting facilities and the state lottery also want the right to offer sports betting.

The tribes say authorizing anyone else to open sportsbooks would dissolve the current compacts. Meaning the tribes would stop giving 25 percent of their slots revenue to the state.

In an effort to get the tribes to sign off on widespread sports betting, online casinos and online poker legislation was tacked on to the bill. The tribes consider online gambling the better financial opportunity.

The US Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting just days after the Connecticut legislative session ended.

In an effort to keep up with other states legalizing sports betting, Gov. Dannel Malloy is said to be considering calling a special session this summer or fall to negotiate a deal with the tribes and get the legislation passed.

If that doesn’t happen, online gambling, online poker and sports betting in Connecticut will have to wait until after the November elections.