Will NY Abandon Online Poker for Sports Betting?

For years, the state of New York has flirted with the idea of introducing online poker legislation. Everyone seems to agree that it will be good for the budget and would no doubt be an attractive pastime for New York poker players. However, attempts to push bills to the Assembly floor have failed until now.

Last year, after the US Supreme Court opened the gates for states such as New York to adopt sports betting legislation, it became clear that the Empire State would make that their focus in 2019. As such, despite the fact that an online poker bill has already been proposed this year, there are fears that New York will abandon the idea of online poker in favor of sports betting.

Earlier this month, Senator Joseph Addabbo pre-filed State Bill 18 which would legalize online poker as a game of skill. It requires players to be at least 21 years old and would tax operators at a rate of 15% on their gross gaming revenue. Licenses would cost $10 million as a one-off fee and no more than 11 licenses would be issued – limited to the state’s commercial and tribal casino operators.

The bill contains bad actor language which would allow regulators to deny licenses to companies or people who “knowingly and willfully accepted or made available wagers on interactive gaming (including poker) from persons located in the United States after December 31st, 2006”.

New York legislators have made it clear that should they need to choose between legal online poker or legal sports betting in the state, they would choose the latter. Sports betting is their top priority and there are no plans to combine the two in a bill.

It seems a shame that legislators don’t seem to even want to consider the idea of combining the two, seen as though the regulatory structure would be almost identical; although both industries could easily exist in parallel if need be. It remains to be seen how – and if – online poker will progress in 2019.

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