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New York Takes First Step Towards Online Poker Regulation

New York
  • An online poker bill was reported by the NY Senate Finance Committee to the Senate floor for consideration.

Since Black Friday rocked the poker world on April 15, 2011 more than five years ago, just three states in Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey have passed legislation to permit regulated online poker. After New Jersey launched regulated online gaming in November 2013, there has been little movement from other states to regulate online poker causing many American residents to either leave the country to play or to engage with unregulated operators.

The first step by another state to regulate online poker was taken last week when the New York Senate Finance Committee reported with a 20-8 vote to the Senate floor the online poker legalization bill, S5302C.

The bill still has a long way to go to for the gaming bill introduced by Senator John Bonacic become law of the land. It first would need to pass the New York State Senate before being presented to the state's Assembly. If the Assembly also passes the bill without amendments, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo would have 10 days to decide whether to pass or veto the bill. If neither action is taken within that period, the bill would automatically become law.

If the Assembly passes the bill with amendments, it would first need to be approved again by the state's Senate before being presented to Governor Cuomo for approval.

With many hurdles to climb, many industry insiders believe that the bill is a long-shot to become law during this legislative session which ends on June 16, 2016. The Poker Players Alliance is urging support from poker players via social media and forums to impress upon "lawmakers" to pass the iGaming bill.

Experts also believe that the bill is unlikely to pass as more attention is currently on passing daily fantasy sports regulation, which also recently had a bill reported by the New York State Assembly, before the legislative session ends. However, the PPA points out that one bill could potentially help the other.

Support by MGM

Despite not currently offering any online gaming in the United States, MGM Resorts International has been a long-time supporter of iGaming legislation.

MGM is likely to enter the world of online gaming for the first time after last week it acquired the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa from Boyd Gaming Corp., who owns 50 percent of the property, for $900 million. Borgata, through, currently offers both online poker and casino games to consumers in New Jersey on the partypoker NJ platform.

Shortly after this acquisition came the announcement of the New York Senate Finance Committee reporting bill S5302C to the Senate floor. MGM praised the move via its General Counsel John McManus in a statement first reported on Online Poker Report.

In the statement MGM shared that New York residents are not offered consumer protection against offshore sites which is unlikely to go away and that a gaming regime could add millions of dollars of tax revenues that could help the state provide more services.

"We applaud the Senate Finance Committee’s vote to create a safe, legal environment for online poker through legislation that will generate tens of millions of dollars in revenue for taxpayers, and create open and fair opportunities for all providers of online poker," MGM shared in a statement. "This legislation recognizes that millions of New Yorkers play online poker on unregulated and unprotected off-shore poker websites that operate with no oversight, fraud controls, or age restrictions."

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