May 11, 2017

New York Senate Finance Committee passes online gaming bill

On Tuesday, the state Senate Finance Committee approved legislation that would make New York the fourth and most populous US state to welcome legal and regulated online poker. Approved by a vote of 27-9, the bill S3898 now goes to the entire Senate, where a majority vote would send it to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature.

If it reaches the governor’s desk, there will be a 10-day period where it may be signed into law or vetoed.

Sponsored by Senator John Bonacic, the bill seeks to legalise online poker as a game of skill, or specifically hold’em and omaha, which are deemed by the senator, apparently, to be the most skillful variants. That will be the key point for debate the take place in the Senate.

The Empire State’s long-running efforts to legalise internet poker had first moved forward last february after the legislation passed the Senate Gaming Committee by a unanimous 11-0 vote.

The bill originally introduced in late January would authorise the New York State Gaming Commission to hand out online poker licenses at the cost of $10m per license. Under the bill, poker would be classified as a game of skill, which differs from the provision within the state constitution that prevents internet gaming. The state will also be able to enter interstate compacts in order to increase player pools and liquidity.

The bill would amend the Racing, Pari-Mutuel Wagering and Breeding Law to permit certain interactive poker games, specifically Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hold’em. It would change the definition of poker to constitute a game where the outcome is determined by skill rather than luck, and would regulated without this being considered gaming expansion.

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