New York Assembly Bill 05250 That Would Legalize Online Poker Dies

By: S.K.
Monday, June 26th, 2017

For the past three years, Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow (D-Westchester) has been the vanguard of legal online poker conversation in the Empire State. His most recent attempt with NY Assembly Bill 05250 would have changed the definition of Texas Hold’em and Omaha from games of chance to games of skill, making them permissible to play online. You can read the full text of Assembly Bill 05250, but below is a snapshot of the Assembly summary:

[A05250] Allows certain interactive poker games be considered games of skill rather than games of luck; includes definitions, authorization, required safeguards and minimum standards, the scope of licensing review and state tax implications; makes corresponding penal law amendments.

The Politics Of NY Assembly Bill 05250

The companion measure issued by State Senator John Bonacic (R-Orange County) earlier this month made proponents hopeful for the future of legalized online poker in New York. When introduced on the Senate floor, NY S03898 passed with an overwhelming 53-9 vote. It was when the bill was brought to be joined with NY A05250 that we saw the progression of the measure come to a standstill.

Though Bonacic’s bill is almost identical to Pretlow’s in terms of legalizing internet poker and increase tax state tax revenue, the main point of contention came when reviewing the “bad actor” language in the assemblyman’s bill.

The Standing Committee on Codes could not come to terms on how to handle to “bad actors” like PokerStars that have had violations in the past. The term is used to describe online poker operators that continued to accept money from USA players even after the Unlawful
Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was enacted in 2006. California is another state that has struggled to pass online poker legislation due to the same clause.

Try Again Next Year

The Assembly was unable to reach a decision by Wednesday night’s official close of the legislative session. Ultimately, the bill was not able to move through all of the state’s committees within a reasonable timeframe. The dispute in the Codes committee paired with New York law requiring a three-day wait period before taking a vote made it clear earlier in the week that NY A05250 had a slim chance of being passed in 2017. At the close of the week ending June 16th, Pretlow gave an ominous quote regarding the progression of the bill:

“There was some opposition,” stated Prelow. “We’ll pick it up next year more than likely.”

Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow was unavailable for a comment when called his office for a comment and update on his plans going forward.

Additional Online Poker Legislation

While legalized online poker may not be in the cards for New York in 2017, there are other states that are still in the running. Pennsylvania has until June 30th to make a decision on two proposed iGaming bills that would expand gambling is drastically different ways.

In Illinois, the state Senate approved a new DFS and internet gambling bill that is now scheduled to be discussed in the House Executive Committee on Saturday. The committee will also be deliberating on a separate daily fantasy sports bill during the meeting. It is possible that Illinois could see legalized online gaming and DFS by the beginning of July.