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It’s Alive! NY Assembly Acts On Both Sports Betting And Poker

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A new year means a new shot for New York online poker. It also means the legislature is going to take a closer look at sports betting. This past week, both got consideration in Albany.

Online poker takes its first baby step of 2018

We reported last year how the online poker legislation that failed to pass in 2017 would get to pick up where it left off in 2018. Two bills began the year in respective Senate and Assembly committees. While the Senate will likely be smooth sailing like past years, the Assembly is where there needs to be progress.

So far, the progress is moving in the right direction. It is a rather small step, but the bill advanced out of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee by a vote of 10-1.  Next up for the legislation is the Senate Finance Committee.

For the past two years, the Senate easily passed poker legislation. Sen. John Bonacic is a great champion for online poker in the Senate. Someone needs to usher the bil through the Assembly though.

The Assembly’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee chair Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow will be an integral part of getting the legislation passed into law. Last year, it seemed like Pretlow was more optimistic about online poker than previous years. However, more recently, Pretlow became wishy washy on the subject once again.

Before worrying too much about Pretlow though, the focus now is on getting the bill back to the point lawmakers left it in 2018.

Senate listens to NBA, leagues regarding sports betting

It was a busy week for the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee. In addition to voting on online poker, the committee held a hearing to talk about sports betting in New York.

Currently there is no legislation on the floor about expanding sports betting beyond the planned wagering at commercial casinos. And that betting is still contingent on federal law changing.

Nonetheless, the committee heard from interested parties about sports betting. One particularly interesting witness was a spokesperson for the NBA. The basketball league claims to be open to sports betting. However, it suggests the federal government should be the one to do it.

One other element the NBA is pushing for is an integrity fee. In other words, a cut of the profits for the leagues. Ostensibly, the funds would be used to better ensure integrity and eradicate any potential cheating.

The American Gaming Association quickly responded to the suggestion, issuing a statement:

“We are pleased that the National Basketball Association (NBA) today joined with the gaming industry in support of vigorously regulated sports wagering. We can all agree that the 25-year ban on sports wagering has been a failure in every regard. Now, let’s get real about eliminating the illegal market, protecting consumers and determining the role of government – a role that most certainly does not include transferring money from bettors to multi-billion-dollar sports leagues.”

NY might not be acting fast enough on the sports betting front

When it comes to online poker, New York is certainly taking its time when it comes to passing laws. The legislature may not have the luxury of time on their side with sports betting though.

The number of states pursuing online poker this year are minimal, though it is worth noting Pennsylvania passed a law last year. Sports betting is another story. A recent report from gaming analysts Eilers & Krejcik predicts 18 states could start accepting sports bets in the near future. Several of them are neighbors of New York.

Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania already passed sports betting laws. They will be ready to accept bets not long after the Supreme Court issues a decision that could potentially overturn existing law. New York doesn’t.

Given how much New York casinos are struggling, with seemingly not enough revenue to go around, sports betting could be a shot in the arm. Certainly online gambling could to, just look at New Jersey. However, online poker with no online casino is not a solution that will generate enough to make much of an impact.

Jessica Welman

About

Jessica Welman is a longtime member of the poker media. She has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the Managing Editor for WSOP.com. A graduate of the University of Southern California and Indiana University, Welman is not only a writer but also a producer. She has been involved for livestreams for the WSOP and WPT and worked as a consultant on many other poker productions. She can be found on Twitter @jesswelman.