Senate Bill S3898, introduced and sponsored by Senator John Bonacic, will allow for some interactive poker games to be legal in the State of New York. The bill was originally introduced to Racing, Gaming and Wagering on January 27, 2017. On June 13, 2017 the bill was passed in the Senate by a 53-9 vote. This bill has previously died in the Senate three times, back in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Although the bill has passed in the Senate before this is the first time that the bill has made it to the Assembly.
The bill claims that some interactive poker games are not games of luck; rather these games are games of skill. Two games of particular focus are online “Texas Hold’em” and “Omaha Hold’em.” This bill would enable the New York State Gaming Commission to award 11 licenses to online poker operators. These online poker operators could work alongside other online poker operators in other states that allow for legal online poker with similar regulations.
Currently, online poker gambling is illegal in the State of New York. This bill would enable the State of New York to oversee activities that are already occurring. New York could then regulate how these activities occur and make money for the state in the process. The State of New York would receive additional revenue with the passing of this bill. The bill’s proposed tax rate is 15 percent. In addition to tax revenue from the online poker industry there would be additional revenue from the required licenses fees that are correlated with an online poker industry.
Operators who want to participate in this legal online poker industry will be required to meet high standards which will be set by the State of New York. These operators will have to offer a limited amount of games, and the games offered must require a high level of skill. Operators will have to prevent minors (anyone under the age of 21) from participating in their online poker games. For those members who are allowed to participate, operators will be required to prevent compulsive gambling and protect their consumers.