Earlier this year, State Senator John Bonacic speculated that hearings on iGaming would begin during 2015. While that didn’t happen during the 2015 legislative session, the NY Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering recently announced that it would hold a hearing on the expansion of online lottery games and general iGaming.
This hearing will be an important step forward for iGaming legislation in New York. It will help bring the issue to the forefront to lawmakers and hopefully answer a few questions that are on the minds of stakeholders and iGaming supporters. Below are a few things we hope to learn in the September iGaming hearing.
What’s the Real Temperature of Lawmakers?
First, we are hoping to get an idea where some lawmakers really stand in regards to iGaming regulation in New York. So far, we have seen three attempts launched to legalize online poker and none have moved out of committee.
Is this due to a lack of real interest from lawmakers or have they been taking a wait and see approach. Now that we have a better idea of iPoker and general iGaming revenues in New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada, lawmakers may be ready to commit to this issue.
Where Do Lawmakers Stand in Regards to PokerStars and Bad Actors?
Another important question is where New York lawmakers stand in terms of bad actors and specifically PokerStars. This year’s bill was devoid a bad actor clause but it was included in the 2014 version.
In other parts of the country, support of the bad actor clause has waned in the last couple of years. The fact that it wasn’t included in the 2015 bill could mean opinions have shifted among lawmakers.
But how about other interested stakeholders. There have been rumblings that some tribes have concerns about online poker. Will PokerStars be one of those concerns? The last thing we need is California all over again.
What Will We Learn About Regulatory Framework?
Supporters of iGaming will be interested to see what information about the regulatory framework will come out of this hearing, if any. We know from the last bill that licenses will be $10 million and operators taxed at 15%.
Will we learn any new information regarding regulatory issues, including how they intend to monitory players and which divisions will be in charge of administering iGaming regulations?
Odds are that New York will not try to reinvent the wheel but there will be some on hand that will want more details of the logistics of regulations rather than how much the state can make.
Will Any Major Factions Rise in Opposition?
While there’s always some opposition to any type of gambling expansion, some groups carry more weight than others. This hearing may help reveal if any major factions in New York will rise up to oppose online gambling expansion similar to the Pechanga coalition in California.
Naturally, we expect Sheldon Adelson and his cronies to show up to the hearing and we may have other testimony from groups combating gambling addiction. Adelson’s group has been losing support in recent months, so any opposition raised by them will likely be rebuked or even ignored.
Our concern is over the rumors that some tribes may be opposed to online gambling expansion in New York. The question is whether these are rumors or if these are oppositions that can be resolved through discussion and negotiation.