Online Poker and Mobile Sports Betting Remain Elusive in New York

Over the past few years, lawmakers in the state of New York have tried multiple times to legalize online poker. This year, efforts were not pushed and have seemingly fell to the wayside. Mobile sports betting became the highlight only to fall short in the Assembly. It seems some lawmakers are not ready to allow a gambling expansion in the state.

Online Poker Fail

Companion online poker bills were reintroduced by Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (S 18) and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (A 4924), but neither tried to advance the bills out of committee before the session ended in June. The priority has shifted to mobile sports betting, though neither category seem to be gaining enough support to move forward.

Pretlow began the year focusing more on sports betting, perhaps because he felt that there was a chance to see legislation move forward. However, efforts to pass a mobile sports betting bill failed. The state Senate was able to approve legislation regarding sports betting, but the measure was never voted on in the Assembly.

According to Pretlow, there was enough support for the sports betting bill in the Assembly, but the Speaker Carl Heastie was not willing to put the measure up for a vote. Without the bill coming up for a vote, the option would not be considered in the state.

Moving Forward

With the session ended, the next session will not be until 2020. Both Addabbo and Pretlow will see their bills live next year. However, neither feel that they will be able to see online poker come to pass. The goal will be to focus on mobile sports betting and expanding the industry to include off-track betting and racetracks.

The two seem to feel more confident that mobile sports betting is the lesser of two evils. According to Addabbo, once mobile sports betting is legalized and has settled a bit, they can then look at again at online poker. The lawmaker feels that they will need to prove themselves with the online sports betting option before they can move on to any online poker legislation.

For now, the state will be impacted by neighboring competition. New Jersey offers a plethora of online gaming options including sports betting, poker and casino games. The state has a well-established online gaming industry and earns tens of millions each month in revenues. One would think that lawmakers in New York would see their neighbor’s success and want to get in on the action.

Pennsylvania has also legalized both online casino and poker gaming along with sports betting. Several sports betting apps have launched in the state and in the next few weeks, online gaming sites are scheduled to launch.

If New York continues to wait around to offer such services, they will find themselves further and further behind. We shall see by next year if lawmakers can be convinced to move forward with the online gaming options or if the state will continue to be one that is not open to online gaming.


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