NY Online Poker Hearing a Mighty Disappointment

New YorkYesterday´s public hearing “To Discuss the Future of Online Poker in New York State” revealed a lack of interest and a lack of knowledge about online poker.

Yesterday´s public hearing before the New York State Senate’s Standing Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering was a kick in the teeth for supporters of regulated [geolink href=”https://www.usafriendlypokersites.com/new-york/”]online poker in New York[/geolink]. Despite having plenty of notice about the hearing, just three of the eleven committee members turned up – and two of them departed “due to previous commitments” before the hearing reached its half-way point.

Committee chairman John Bonacic – author of Bill 5302 proposing the regulation of online poker in New York – was left isolated to hear the usual submissions from usual pro-regulation parties (even Sheldon Adelson´s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling did not bother to send a representative), some of whom demonstrated a distinct lack of knowledge about their own industry.

Here is What the Committee Members Missed

John Pappas – executive director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) – opened the proceedings with a speech about how online poker in New York should be regulated to protect players from fly by night operators. He made reference to the demise of Lock Poker to elaborate on the need for protection.

Second to speak was James Featherstonehaugh – president of the New York Gaming Association. Featherstonehaugh seemed completely ignorant of the fact that unregulated online poker in New York is alive and well when he urged caution because of the potential impact of online poker on the state´s racinos.

The next speaker to demonstrate his ignorance of New York´s current online poker market was Michael Pollock from the Spectrum Gaming Group. Pollock advocated for regulated online poker on the grounds that it would introduce a new gaming audience of players that had never crossed the threshold of a brick-and-mortar casino.

The middle of the meeting was dominated by representatives from MGM Resorts, Caesars and the Borgata Casino – all of whom sang from the same hymn sheet, telling Senator Bonacic how good regulated online poker would be for their brick-and-mortar casinos.

At Last – Somebody Worth Listening To

Next up was Kevin Cochran – a senior legal analyst for the online news site GamblingCompliance. Cochran provided details of the kind of revenue that could be generated by the regulation of online poker ($122 million in Year One, rising to $164 million by Year Four), and warned Senator Bonacic that the $10 million licensing fee could dissuade some operators from getting involved if the fee was not credited against future tax liabilities.

The final speaker was Rush Street Gaming´s Richard Schwartz. Rush Street Gaming provides software for all types of online gambling activities, so it was no surprise that Schwartz spoke about online gambling in general rather than limiting his testimony exclusively to online poker. Schwartz supported the casino´s pitch for regulation in New York by saying it was a unique marketing opportunity that few other opportunities could match.

Next Time, Can we Start with Cochran and Schwartz?

It was a shame that the two committee members who left before half-time missed the representations of Cochran and Schwartz, as these were the two speakers that brought anything of interest to the hearing. Cochran in particular offered reasonable expectations of what a regulated market would generate in revenues compared to the forecasts that were being suggested before the states of New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada passed legislation for online gambling.

Schwartz opened a can of worms by referring to online gambling in general. This is a particular sensitive issue in New York, where contests of chance are banned outside of licensed casinos. Senator Bonacic had attempted to circumnavigate the law by inserting a clause in his proposals that would provide a carve-out for online poker due to it being a game of skill. A complete change in the law would be necessary if casino-style online gambling was to be introduced.

What Next for Online Poker in New York?

You have to wonder if there is any future for the regulation of online poker in New York. If eight-out-of-eleven committee members cannot be bothered to attend a hearing and Sheldon Adelson´s cronies fail to turn up, the implication is that that regulation is going to be a long time coming – if at all!

Possibly more concerning for those with a genuine interest in regulating online poker in New York is that those representing them have little knowledge about the current marketplace or are only looking after their own interests.

It looks like Pennsylvania all over again!

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett