New York Senate Approves Online Poker Wagering Bill

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Last night the New York Senate voted to legalize online poker in the state, opening doors for New York's 11 racetrack casinos to apply for i-gaming licenses, reported syracuse.com.

The bill from Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, chair of the Senate's racing, gaming and wagering committee —S5302 ��� passed by a 53-5 vote. Now the state Assembly will discuss whether to vote on the bill this week, the final week of the legislative session this year.

But Gary Pretlow, the Assembly’s racing and wagering committee chairman, has already called the online poker legalization efforts "dead," reported The Buffalo News. The debate over whether to legalize daily fantasy sports will likely overshadow the i-poker push, he said.

If the Assembly were to green light S5302, allowing certain interactive poker games, New York would become the fourth state in the country to legalize online poker gambling, joining New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada.

Whereas New York State law prohibits gambling outside of casinos, state lotteries and horseracing, the bill would add online poker to those ranks by classifying the online games of Texas Hold-em and Omaha Hold-em as games of skill instead of luck. Under the bill, $10 million would provide casinos with a 10-year license to offer Internet wagering games; the state's 15 percent tax would be applied to the $10 million.

If New York legalizes online poker, Bonacic said he foresees the state's racetracks joining teams with Las Vegas-based casinos to offer i-poker.

One major commercial casino operator voiced its support of the bill immediately after the New York Senate approved it. "Creating a safe, regulated option for online poker players in New York would generate millions in new tax revenue that could be used for education and other critical investments," said MGM General Counsel John McManus. "We applaud the Senate for passing this sensible legislation that will help protect New Yorkers who have for years played online poker on unprotected, off-shore poker websites that today operate with no regulation, fraud controls, or age restrictions."