Could online poker be coming to New York? As poker players in legal markets know first hand, governmental efforts toward online gaming move slowly. But there seems to be a growing push for legalized iGaming in the Empire State.
State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. (D) is leading the charge after helping to get mobile sports betting legalized in the state. While online casino gaming is the main effort, some believe poker would be included as well.
The goal is to reach legalization sometime in 2023 and Addabbo appears to have supporters in state government. That includes Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), which bodes well for any attempts at legalization.
“Gov. Hochul and her administration have been so amenable,” Addabbo recently told PlayNY.com, “so willing to have an open-door discussion about gaming: mobile sports betting, downstate licenses, horse racing. Something we couldn’t even fathom to think about under a previous administration.
“It’s welcoming. It’s actually nice to have that kind of professionalism to actually have these kinds of conversations. So I look forward to having a conversation with the Hochul administration before January, before the executive budget and even during the budget process.”
More revenue to state coffers
Along with a Democrat in the New York governor’s mansion, both houses of the state legislature are also controlled by Democrats. That offers some partners for any legislative efforts by Addabbo.
As states look to add additional revenue streams, online gaming has become a more popular discussion topic among state legislators. State revenue would help fund New York education.
“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 in New York. “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.
“I think it’s important to have that process of including all going forward. Most of my colleagues know that we’re going to look at this for the executive budget, or certainly for the final budget next year. So we’ll see how it goes.”
Now that midterm elections are complete, it looks as if online gaming can take the spotlight in Albany in the coming months.
“When the New York State Legislature reconvenes in January, Addabbo says he wants to resume work on bills he and Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow introduced earlier this year,” New York Sportsday recently noted.
Neighbors New Jersey and Pennsylvania both offer online casinos and poker. It seems likely any legislation in the Empire State would also include poker.
Adding a massive market
With almost 20 million people, New York would certainly become the largest state in the country offering online poker. That could be a huge addition to a potential shared liquidity group. Here’s a look at the population of the current legalized markets and their populations.
- Nevada – 3.1 million
- New Jersey – 8.9 million
- Michigan – 10 million
- Delaware – 1 million
- Pennsylvania – 13 million
In the online poker player’s perfect world, that could eventually be a combined shared liquidity market of about 56 million. This grouping offers the chance at a sizable poker market, which could see greatly increased prize and player pools.
But as most players know, legalization efforts take considerable time. Even if legislation passes in New York, the regulation and approval process for operators would also take months.
Then adding states to the country’s online legalized interstate compact requires even more consideration and approvals. Players received some good news in April when Michigan officially joined the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association.
The move offers the chance at a possible four-state interstate compact with Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Michigan. Many hoped Michigan would come on board this year, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Linking PokerStars and BetMGM platforms in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey also offer players a chance at some additional shared liquidity options. WSOP.com is the only platform currently offering shared liquidity in New Jersey, Nevada, and with 888poker in Delaware. That company could also tie in its Michigan platform when that state is added to the multi-state agreement.
A growing field of poker states?
Adding New York offers some huge potential for online poker in the US. With mobile sports betting, online casinos, and poker legalized, there may be some momentum for other states to get on board.
Seeing another major domino fall that has previously considered legalization, such as Illinois, could only add to the efforts. Addabbo hopes to fine-tune his own plan in the coming months, hopefully with a full plan unveiled in April.
“It’s a formula that has worked in the past with mobile sports betting,” Addabbo told PlayNY. “And I’m hopeful that it can work again.”