Earlier this month, the New York Senate Standing Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering held their first hearing regarding online poker. While the hearing was seen as positive for iPoker prospects, it is clear that there’s a long way to go before the game is legalized.
It’s no secret that many consider New York to be a long-term prospect for online poker but the ball has begun rolling, albeit slow. Senator John Bonacic is the state’s champion for online poker and hopes to carry this momentum into 2016. Below are four things that we can expect to from NY regarding iPoker regulation in 2016.
A Modified iPoker Bill
Senator Bonacic has already promised that he will modify his existing bill in the coming months after discussions with various lawmakers. Some of the issues to be addressed include licensing fees and casino partnership for online operators.
One question is whether a 2016 bill will be comprehensive or still a work in progress. A comprehensive bill is necessary in order to gauge the temperature of lawmakers and other stakeholders in New York. Right now, online poker is a nice topic of discussion but until it is given serious consideration and a comprehensive bill, it is hard to see the issue gaining traction.
Future Hearings on iGaming
At the start of 2015, Senator Bonacic stated that he did not expect a bill to pass but for hearings to take place. It took until after the legislative session but we did finally see one hearing held about online poker.
For 2016, we expect at least two if not three hearings on the matter. The initial hearing will probably be similar in tone to the one earlier this month with future hearings dealing with more specific matters such as infrastructure, fees and possibly even bad actors if that becomes an issue.
Movement to Start Earlier in the Year
Bonacic conceded before the start of 2015 that a bill would not pass and it wasn’t a shock that he waited until a month before the end of the legislative session to submit a bill. Don’t expect the same thing to happen in 2016.
We expect Bonacic to push up the timeline in order to gain a bit of traction on the issue. No later than March do we expect a bill to be filed with hearings to start by April. Do we expect a bill to pass in 2016? Not really, but we do expect increased dialogue among lawmakers.
Adelson to Launch Campaign Against NY iPoker
Sheldon Adelson has worked diligently to block online poker at the federal level and we can expect some of the same to commence in 2016. Adelson and the Bethlehem Sands have stayed relatively quiet thus far and part of that is because online poker has really been a non-issues.
However, should lawmakers begin to give the issue serious consideration, expect Adelson to try to step in to try to block it. While it will be Adelson against the rest of the NY casino industry, he will still make enough noise to gain the attention of NY citizens and sympathetic lawmakers.