June 20, 2024

New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-15th) has filed a bill that would legalize online poker in the Empire State by having it declared a game of skill.

New York, online poker bill, Joseph Addabbo
New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr., above, has introduced a standalone online poker bill after one that included online casinos failed. But with less than a month left in the legislative session, is it too late? (Image: QNS)

The push comes after a previous bill sponsored by Addabbo, which would have legalized online casino gaming and online poker, failed to gain enough support and was excluded from Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D) budget in January.

Addabbo, who is chair of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming, and Wagering, hopes his bill, now shaved of the more controversial casino vertical, will be more palatable to the legislature and governor.

That said, previous standalone online poker bills haven’t fared very well either. Addabbo or his committee chairman predecessor, now-retired State Senator John Bonacic, have been trying to legalize the online game almost every year since 2014.

Historically, these bills have fared well in the Senate but have come up short in the Assembly, where they have been championed each year by Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-89th).

Tax Halved

Addabbo’s bill would create as many as 10 online poker licenses, charging operators $10 million each. Revenues would be taxed at 15%, half the figure proposed by his online casino and poker bill.

The legislation would task the New York Gaming Commission to come up with the fine details and draw up a framework of regulation for the proposed future market.

Instead, the bill focuses on the justification for defining online poker as a game of skill. Addabbo notes that a New York federal court has ruled that poker is predominantly a skill game.

Meanwhile, state courts have interpreted New York law to apply a more rigorous test in identifying a contest of chance that is applied by most states in the nation, Addabbo asserts.

“As the internet has become an integral part of society, and internet poker a major form of entertainment for many consumers … regulatory oversight [is needed] to safeguard the integrity of the games and participants and to ensure public trust,” he writes.

Late to Party

The advantage of the legislature classifying online poker as a “nongambling” game of skill is that the bill would theoretically not need to be approved by a public vote, since gambling expansion requires an amendment to the constitution.

This was how the legislature legalized and regulated daily fantasy sports in 2016 — a move that was successfully challenged in court by anti-gambling groups. Daily fantasy sports remain unregulated in New York.

Addabbo’s bill is a latecomer to the state’s legislative session, which will recess June 6, although as a legislative leader, Addabbo could recall lawmakers for an extraordinary session.

The post New York Bill Says Online Poker is a Skill Game appeared first on Casino.org.

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