Lawmakers in the state of New York concluded the 2018 legislative session without passing an online poker bill, despite beginning the year as one of the states favored to pass i-poker regulations. Unless a special session is called, New Yorkers will once again have to wait until next year.
Of course, advancement of online poker legislation is not guaranteed for 2019 either. But the progress that’s been made thus far won’t likely be swept under the rug. Instead, with sports betting also in play thanks to a recent US Supreme Court ruling that allows individual states to offer such wagering, hopes of many are now pinned on a bundled package that will include poker, casino games and betting on sports.
In the meantime, online poker players in New York who had been encouraged by the work of State Senator John Bonacic and Assemblyman Clyde Vanel in getting a poker bill passed will have to wait at least another six months for any movement. Vanel managed to drum up support in the form of co-sponsors from around four dozen Assembly members, but A5250 languished since January without coming up for a vote.
Smooth Sailing in Senate
Bonacic put his full support behind S3898 and was able to get more than enough aye votes from the full Senate in both 2016 and 2017. The measure again began this year with plenty of backing from his colleagues in the Senate, sailing through the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee with a favorable 9-1 vote and following that with positive support in the Finance Committee to the tune of 28-5.
But with the Assembly stalling on passing their version of online poker legislation, the Senate became stymied as well. Which is very unfortunate considering that Bonacic announced his retirement and won’t be around to commandeer the bill in 2019.
Bonacic put plenty of time and effort into i-poker legislation over the last few years and would’ve undoubtedly liked to have begun his retirement with the bill having gained approval. However, without a special session called between now and December to get the job done, another Senator will have to pick up the torch and carry it in 2019.
Sports Betting Boon
The flames of that torch are burning a bit brighter thanks to the sports betting decision that may be the catalyst that prompts any number of states to push through online poker and gambling legislation as well. New York remains a distinct possibility to be one of those states, as several sports betting bills had been proposed before the Empire State’s legislative session ended on June 20.
It may not be any consolation for New Yorkers who were hoping to play regulated online poker, but the state legislature closed its doors for 2018 with a number of issues left unresolved. Sports betting and i-poker were just two of the matters that will have to wait until next year, a familiar refrain that poker players have had to listen to time and again.
Only four states have thus far passed online poker and gambling legislation. Many thought New York would be the fifth, especially with strong support in the Senate and reinforced backing in the Assembly thanks to a bunch of new co-sponsors for A5250. NY still might be the fifth state to advance regulated i-poker, but we won’t know that until at least 2019.