Hopes for online poker legislation were higher than ever to start 2018. However, with New York lawmakers headed into budget deliberations this Spring, the legislation is in roughly the same position it has been the past couple of years, when it ultimately stalled.
For the past two years, the state Senate has passed a bill seeking to legalize online poker in the Empire State. However, it has failed to get out of the committee stage in the Assembly.
In order for a bill to become law in the state, it must pass through both the Senate and Assembly, before being signed by the Governor.
High hopes to start the year
Hopes were higher than ever to start 2018 because Assembly-member J. Gary Pretlow, chair of the Assembly’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, told everyone who would listen that the state’s new carry-over policy for bills in a legislative term meant lawmakers would get an early start on online poker legislation this year.
However, it turned out the carry-over policy only applies to the Assembly. Pretlow was finally forced to admit in January the bill is not likely to be addressed until June, the same time it has been the past couple of years.
Online poker legislation will start off in the Assembly’s Codes Committee. This the same place it left off last year after being passed by the Pretlow-chaired Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee.
However, it was back to square one for online poker in the Senate to start the year.
The Senate didn’t adopt the same carry-over policy for bills. This meant online poker legislation began 2018 back in the Senate’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee.
It was reported to the Senate Finance Committee by a vote of 10-1 in January, marking the third straight year the bill has advanced out of the gaming committee. However, it will still need to jump through the usual legislative hoops before it gets to the Senate floor, and passed, like it has the past two years.
Breaking new ground in the Assembly
In the meantime, the legislation will have to break new ground in the Assembly. It must get through both it’s Ways and Means Committee and Rules Committee before it reaches the floor there.
According to Pretlow, New York lawmakers have a habit of getting lost in the budget all of February. Then they battle over its details in March, and finally pass it to begin April. In April and May, all the heavy lifting gets done. Then, a final push is made in June to pass all necessary legislation before the session ends.
This year, Pretlow says he’s going to “redouble” his efforts to at least get the legislation on the Assembly floor before then. He also plans to convince any lawmakers opposed to the bill that legalizing online poker won’t be as big a change as they might think. He says legalizing online poker is simply making sure the state benefits, players are properly protected and organized crime is kept out of something that’s happening online in New York whether it’s legal it or not.
News hit last week that the Senate’s proposed budget includes the legalization of online poker. News that isn’t negative for online poker efforts in New York. However, it’s also news that isn’t anything new.
Online poker has been in Senate budget proposals the past two years. However, the legislative session has ended with the same negative results. Perhaps even more telling is that fact it remains out of budget proposals put forward the Assembly and Gov. Andrew Cuomo again this year.
There is still hope for online poker legislation in New York in 2018. However, the probability of it passing remains about the same as it has been the past two years. Whether the final outcome will be something different this year is anybody’s guess.