The state Senate recently amended the bill to include a bad actor clause. As a result, the bill is even more divisive and stands little chance of passing.
New amendment targets Amaya, PokerStars
The bad actor amendment is always a sticking point in online casino legislation. The point of these clauses is to exclude or punish companies which operated in any illegal offshore gambling. The amendment to the NY bill, S3898, wants to exclude those who:
(i) has at any time, either directly, or through another person whom it owned, in whole or in significant part, or controlled:
(A) knowingly and willfully accepted or made available wagers on interactive gaming (including poker) from persons located in the United States after December thirty-first, two thousand six, unless such wagers were affirmatively authorized by law of the United States or of each state in which persons making such wagers were located …
To put it simply, no PokerStars allowed. While the online poker giant settled its Black Friday charges with the Department of Justice, it still offered wagering to US residents after 2006. As a result, the site’s parent company, Amaya, will almost certainly lobby against the legislation.
Is David Baazov’s questionable contribution to Cuomo involved?
Last month, news broke that former Amaya CEO David Baazov allegedly contributed $25,000 to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign illegally. The following year, legislators dropped the bad actor clause from the year’s push for online gambling.
It is possible the new clause is an attempt to reiterate Cuomo and other New York politicians are not under Amaya’s control. It is also possible other casinos leveraged the news to pressure lawmakers into adding the amendment.
Whatever the case may be, the end result is Amaya’s position to influence legislation is compromised after this news. While this may reduce their ability to fight the bad actor clause, it also reduces its ability to help push the bill through, should they choose to do so.
Online gambling’s uphill battle is much steeper
Before the amendment, the bill was already drawing thin. The bill got out of committee last moth, then stalled on the Senate floor. Senators can call the bill for a vote at any time. However, lawmakers typically will not call for a vote unless they know it will pass. Last year, a similar bill passed by a 53-5 margin.
The Senate included gambling expansion in its budget, but the Governor and Assembly did not. In fact, prior to the amendment, the real hurdle for the bill appeared to be the Assembly.
With the new, contentious amendment, the chances the bill gets out of the Senate now seem slim. Moreover, the Senate adjourns at the end of the month. In addition to facing a tougher road to passing, it also has less and less time to work with.