New York was pegged as a state to explore the issue of online poker legalization in 2015. However, through April there has been zero movement in the legislature. This leads some to wonder if the issue is already dead for the year.
Pennsylvania and California have both been moving forward with bills while New York seems to be sitting on their hands. Are New York lawmakers in a holding pattern due to RAWA or are there other concerns keeping them from pulling the trigger on iGaming?
Pennsylvania Holding Hearings
Pennsylvania has been putting the pressure on California in recent weeks and has become the frontrunner to pass a bill in 2015. Pennsylvania is currently in the process of holding hearings on online poker, specifically on HB 649. Rep. John Payne is the bill’s primary sponsor and the head of the House Oversight Gaming Committee.
The bill would bring in $5 million in licensing fees for each iGaming company licensed. Afterwards, iGaming would be taxed at 14%. Recent estimates has PA iGaming coming in at $120 million in revenues after year one.
This bill lack the problems faced in California and lawmakers seem to have a much more open mind on the issue. Don’t be surprised to see this bill come to a vote sometime during the summer barring some last minute issue that pushes it to 2016.
California Actually Got a Bill Out of Committee
On Monday, California was able to get a bill out of committee for the first time in history. AB 431 was unanimously passed by the Assembly Governmental Organizational Committee (GO) and will begin the process of moving towards a vote.
Granted, this bill is pretty much just a placeholder bill and lacks any real details. It also fails to address the two major concerns in the state, bad actors and horse race track participation.
What is promising about this bill is that it lacks any true opposition at present. The Pechanga Coalition has taken a neutral stance until future drafts of the bill have been presented. Others have taken a positive stance and will work towards trying to push this bill through.
While there is no guarantee that this bill will actually come to a vote in 2015, getting out of committee is a historic first step.
What’s Holding Up New York?
Heading into May, we have yet to hear of a bill being introduced into the legislative session. Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, head of the Assembly Committee on Racing and Wagering, had stated back in January that a new bill would be filed this year.
Anyone seen a bill? Bueller?
Pretlow admitted back in January that he didn’t expect an iGaming bill to pass in 2015 and that, at best, maybe we would see hearings on the issue. Is it possible with such an outlook that he decided to hold off until 2016?
Then there is the matter of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA). Knowing that a bill would not pass in 2015, Pretlow may be waiting to see whether RAWA actually comes to a vote in Congress. After a less than stellar hearing a couple of weeks ago, it appears that the bill will move forward but whether it comes to a vote remains to be seen.
Finally, Pretlow and others could be waiting to see how the industry performs in 2015. The New Jersey market has been viewed as a disappointment by many lawmakers despite the unrealistic expectations prior to launching.
Revenues in 2015 have been impressive for New Jersey but iPoker numbers have been struggling. However, the new interstate network between Delaware and Nevada could rekindle optimism depending on how it performs over the next few months. Delaware is already seeing a bump in iPoker revenues and new player registrations. Should this continue, the interstate network could become a strong selling point to New York.