If you're hoping for online poker legislation to pass in New York, you're going to want things to get ugly tonight.
The bill's chances rest on The Big Ugly. That's what New Yorkers call their end-of-session omnibus bill, a Frankenstein combination of legislation that the branches want to push through before the end of the year.
The effort for online poker to be included got a huge boost Tuesday when the New York Senate passed its online poker bill by a 53-5 vote. However, the same day Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, author of the online poker bill on his legislative side, called efforts dead in the Assembly.
It is clear that an online poker bill that hasn't even received a committee hearing all year in the Assembly isn't going to speed through by Thursday's final day of the legislative session. But there is an outside chance that the Senate passage inspires mention in The Big Ugly.
Negotiations on The Big Ugly are expected into the wee hours Thursday night/Friday morning, meaning we should know if online poker is included by tomorrow morning.
"I think iPoker and DFS will certainly be part of that discussion," said John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance.
Pretlow's statement has made some wonder whether he is committed to passing online poker legislation.
"I think he is a supporter, no question," Pappas said. "I think he's taken the political calculus on what he can accomplish this year, and decided that for him and the Assembly, which is a more conservative and anti-gaming body than the Senate, he wouldn't be able to pass this bill. I don't think he's doing anything to stop it from happening."
Pretlow's statement to the Buffalo News was given before the Senate vote.
"I think this week's vote certainly opened up a lot of eyes on the Assembly side, and opened the door for anything to happen between now and when everything is actually done this week," Pappas said.
Pappas indicated that PPA members and supporters had made 10,000 contacts through phone calls, emails and tweets to New York lawmakers, on the Senate and Assembly sides, in just over a week.
"I don't know of any other group, not even the DFS guys, who are getting that kind of activism out of players," Pappas said.
The PPA has created this page for all people interested in online poker regulation, but particular New Yorkers, to contact representatives.
Pretlow appears to be making the big push for DFS to end the year that he is not making for online poker, perhaps thinking that he can only get one through the conservative Assembly and that DFS is more urgent. If DFS isn't passed and approved by the governor, New Yorkers will not be able to play on DraftKings or FanDuel at the start of the NFL season in September.
"Whether or not we succeed in getting something done as part of The Big Ugly this year, we've got ourselves very well positioned for 2017," Pappas said. "But I don't want to think about 2017 until we're done with 2016."
*Lead image courtesy of Yvonne Stepanow/FreeImages.com.