Online Poker’s New Life Could Be Tied To Sports Betting

Written By Jessica Welman on April 22, 2018 - Last Updated on September 13, 2022
life preserver on dock

When Assemblyman Clyde Vanel arrived on the New York online poker scene earlier this month, he brought plenty of optimism with him. Now, fellow Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow is trying to temper expectations.

However, even though Pretlow does not have the high hopes for online poker Vanel does, he did indicate in a recent interview with Online Poker Report that poker’s chances are not bad to pass in the Empire State this year.

Bill gaining co-sponsors, goal is 76

As Vanel mentioned, his online poker bill is quickly gaining co-sponsors.  The bill currently has 44 co-sponsors. Pretlow predicted the bill will get to 60. However, he also said 60 is not enough to give the bill a good shot.

“We will get to 60, but my goal is 76. At 76, that means there’s a majority of Democrats in favor,” Pretlow said.

Over the past year, Pretlow frequently lamented the stubbornness of his peers in the Assembly when it comes to online poker. In particular, he fears the Speaker Carl Heastie will never let online poker happen. Pretlow elaborated on why Heastie is such a roadblock:

“He’s not in favor of gambling,” Pretlow said. “It’s obvious there are a lot of people in the Assembly not in favor of gambling of any sort. I try to explain to them that this is an expansion of existing gambling, but it’s hard to do when minds are closed.”

Standalone bill not poker’s only chance at passing

Convincing fellow Assembly members is the clearest tact to getting regulated online poker. There is another way though.

Sports betting.

While online poker lacks support, sports betting has much more momentum. Moreover, with a potential decision in the Supreme Court sports betting case possibly just days away, time is of the essence for the state.

New York already has a sports betting measure in place. Voters approved a measure to allow wagering, but that measure lacks specifics, only stating that commercial casinos in the state can take wagers. A bill expanding NY sports betting to race tracks is needed. The state also needs to pass specific regulations regarding who oversees wagering, taxation plans, and other details.

Given how many neighboring states are also rushing to implement sports betting, time is of the essence in Albany.

Unfortunately, Pretlow sees pairing up the two as a last resort, not an obvious course of action.

“I don’t want to combine them, but if I have to then I will. The sports betting bill has a better chance to pass, and maybe it can carry online poker with it.”

While Pretlow may still sound skeptical, the energy and enthusiasm of Vanel, as well as the hopes of riding sports betting’s coattails into law have many New Yorkers holding out hope 2018 is the year.

In the meantime, New York residents should reach out to their local representatives and tell them they are ready to #PlayNY.

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Jessica Welman

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 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.

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