Key Points that New York Lawmakers Can Take Away from California’s AB 167

Online PokerIn case you missed it, California has introduced a second online poker bill into the 2015 state legislative session. The new bill, AB 167, is significantly different in past bills as it eliminates several roadblocks that have prevented the state from moving forward in online poker legalization.

Most of your are likely wondering what this has to do with legalizing online poker in New York. A new bill has yet to be introduced into the NY state legislature and there are a couple key points that lawmakers can take away from AB 167 and apply to their new bill.

Eliminate the Bad Actor Clause

The most noticeable change from AB 167 and other forms of legislation is the removal of a bad actor clause. For those of you new to online poker legislation, a bad actor clause essentially bans any online poker site that took bets in the United States following the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006.

In reality, the only company really being punished by this clause is PokerStars. PokerStars was one of the “Big 3″ that were prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice in April 2011, also known as Black Friday.

While it is true that PokerStars took bets following the passage of the UIGEA, there was quite a bit of legal ambiguity regarding the true legal status of the game. Also, PokerStars have paid their “debt to society” in their settlement to the DOJ, a settlement that included the purchase of Full Tilt Poker and repayment of close to $400 million worldwide to players.

Also, PokerStars is under new management. Amaya, Inc. purchased the company in August 2014 for $4.9 billion and is a company with a flawless track record in the United States. Punishing PokerStars is actually punishing Amaya.

Make New York Online Poker All-Inclusive

Another key difference in AB 167 from other bills is that it includes horseracing tracks as those that can apply for licenses. Past California bills prohibited horse tracks from participating.

The key takeaway here is that lawmakers need to include all applicable stakeholders when they create online poker legislation. Failure to do so will cause unnecessary delays it he process as those stakeholders battle lawmakers either behind closed doors or in court.

Online Poker Legislation Should be Done in Spirit of Cooperation

California is a shining example of what not to do when trying to legalize online poker. Tribal leaders and state legislators have been at a deadlock for years with neither side looking to budge anytime soon.
New York legislators need to recognize that a spirit of cooperation is needed in order to move an online poker measure through both houses. This means including all applicable stakeholders and including necessary protections to satisfy most online poker critics.

The process should be an open one with representative from all sides working together to come to a solution that is feasible and profitable for the state and all involved. Failure to do otherwise will result in gridlocks that could result in New York being left behind in the race to bring poker online.