Last year, Senator Jon Bonacic and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow introduced companion online poker bills in New York. Players in the Empire State immediately got their hopes up, only to have them dashed by Sen. Bonacic, who said the bill was only meant to start up debates on the issue. Now in 2015, Assemblyman Pretlow is already promising the exact same status quo for this year.
Gary Pretlow is the head of New York’s Assembly Committee on Racing and Wagering. In a statement to Gambling Compliance, he said, “Online poker will not happen within the year, but there will probably be hearings.” So essentially, the path to internet poker regulation in 2015 will mirror that of 2014, producing no tangible results.
There are several issues getting in the way of regulation at the moment. One of them is the same problem cited by New York politicians last year, which was the legislatures desire to focus on land-based gambling expansion before looking at the possibility of an online poker market.
It was originally thought that commercial casino expansion was shored up by the granting of three licenses in 2014, but Governor Andrew Cuomo reopened that can of worms in late December when he requested bidding for a fourth casino license to be approved. Gov. Cuomo hoped a fourth and final license would “excite national competition” and produce “even better applications than the first round”.
Although the request for a fourth casino license was denied by the NY Gaming Commission, the governor could continue to push for further land-based gambling expansion. Such mediations could easily drive online poker regulation to the back burner for longer than originally anticipated.
Another hindrance is the lack of appreciable results in New Jersey. One could easily argue that the Garden State’s iGaming market has been successful, on the whole, but too many angles are seen in a negative light. Worst of all is the viewpoint from NJ Gov. Christie’s original projections for revenue generation, in which he forecasted as much as $1.2 billion in the first year.
Those figures were grossly over-estimated, leading to a general consensus that New Jersey’s online poker and casino market has been a huge disappointment. Surely it’s observances of this nature that lead Assemblyman Pretlow to say, “It’s not working so well in New Jersey”, and unfortunately, that opinion will certainly be shared by many other lawmakers in New York.
On a brighter note, there is still a mass of support for online poker regulation in New York. While legalization may not come to fruition in 2015, lawmakers will get an earful from advocates while undergoing the continued ‘hearings’ on the topic.
One of the more vocal iPoker campaigners has been MGM, which ironically enough is not even involved in New York’s land-based casino industry. MGM started up an advocacy group called Let NY Play, encouraging anyone in New York and over the age of 21 to get involved by signing this petition. As of writing, the Let NY Play Facebook page has harvested 12,193 followers.