New York Senator’s online poker bill heads for full Senate vote

A bill to regulate online poker in New York has passed to the Senate after receiving approval Thursday from the Finance Committee.

Senator John Bonacic's Senate Bill 5302 was introduced in May 2015 before being amended and recommitted to the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee in January this year.

Having already passed the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, the bill was approved yesterday by the Finance Committee with 20 votes in favour and 8 against.

Under the proposed legislation, licensees will be taxed at 15 per cent of gross gaming revenue and pay a one-time licensing fee of $10m for a ten-year licence. This fee is designed to cover the market’s start-up costs over its first three years.

As with other states, the bill looks to restrict licences to those already active in the land-based gaming market. Those eligible to apply for approval to offer online poker must already have a video lottery gaming or Class III gaming facility licence and experience of operating interactive gaming in a state with similar licensing requirements.

Companies without these capabilities or competences, however, can still obtain a licence if they can provide guarantees of the “acquisition of adequate business competence and experience in the operation of interactive gaming.”

This opens the door for land-based operators to partner experienced iGaming operators, as is the case in neighbouring New Jersey.

Play will be restricted to those over the age of 21, with operators required to put in place controls to help prevent compulsive gambling and gambling from outside New York state borders.

The bill does not set out a restriction on the number of licences available, nor does it include any so called 'bad actor' clauses to ban operators and suppliers active in the US after the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006.

It does, however, include wording to allow the New York Gaming Commission to develop regulations to allow for revenue sharing between states.

S5302 now faces a full vote in the New York Senate. If it is passed along with its Assembly companion bill A9049, it will head to Governor Andrew Cuomo for approval, with entry into force 180 days later.

A9049, introduced by Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, is still at committee stage, and yet to be voted on by the Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee.


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