In a surprising turn of events in New York, an online poker bill has emerged from committee and begins the path towards becoming law. On Tuesday, the New York Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee voted 9-0 in favor of S5302B. Assemblyman Gary Pretlow has a similar measure in the Assembly. The bill now moved forward to the Finance Committee as lawmakers look to possibly regulate online gambling in the state.
Necessary Step Forward But Will Bonacic Slow Things Down?
The Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee held a hearing on Tuesday to discuss S5302B along with several bills. At least that was what was supposed to happen. What actually transpired was a brief four-minute hearing where bills were briefly mentioned and then announced to have passed out of committee.
One had to go to the committee website in order to view the actual votes on the bill. Following the committee’s approval, Bonacic commented that Tuesday’s vote was a “necessary step forward” and that he will continue to work with lawmakers in both houses in the future on the bill.
The question now is how Bonacic will work with lawmakers. According to an article at GamblingCompliance.com, Bonacic amended the bill to require that any iPoker license holders be partnered with a New York casino or racino. This is the type of arrangement presently used by both Nevada and New Jersey.
This amendment could potentially slow the launch of iPoker in New York until newly licensed casinos are actually operational in the state. The first of those is expected to open sometime next year.
Solid First Step – But Don’t Get Hopes Up Just Yet
If you were to ask us last month whether online poker would emerge from committee in 2016, our answer would have been no. However, as California has recently proven with Daily Fantasy Sports regulation, never underestimate state politicians.
With that said, keep in mind that this is just the first step in getting a bill passed. Even if the Senate was to push the bill through and get it passed, the same has to happen in the house and that isn’t even considering the possible slowdown considered by Bonacic.
A slowdown of iPoker implementation would actually put the timeline back into alignment with our estimates. We have been saying all along that iPoker will probably not launch until the newly licensed casinos were up and running. That goal is anywhere from 2018 to 2020.
However, we would like to see the state legislature go ahead and push a bill through to regulate iPoker. This would ensure that citizens would be protected once a launch finally occurs, even if lawmakers push it back until the new casinos are opened.
The next two to three months should give us a good idea whether Tuesday committee vote is historic or just a mere footnote in a process expected to drag out until close the beginning of the next decade.