You can’t fault New York Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow for a lack of persistence. The biggest champion of online poker in that chamber of the state legislature has once again introduced a bill to legalize internet poker in the Empire State.
Online poker has had some success in Albany, though it has obviously never been legalized and regulated. In both 2016 and 2017, an online poker bill passed the Senate easily and one made it through the Senate Gaming Committee last year, but even when they cleared the full Senate, nothing ever got done in the Assembly.
Pretlow has been the one to introduce bills in the Assembly and has done so several times. He has also been unafraid to back off of his own bills if he becomes unsure that all of the bases are covered. While a lot of us would like him to just jam legislation through, due diligence is the proper way to go. In 2016, for example, he delayed his bill because he developed doubts about the ability of online poker rooms to curb cheating and be sure customers were playing from within state borders. He ended up going to New Jersey to meet with the Garden State’s Attorney General to learn about the technology used in its gaming industry. He took it all in and felt confident that said technologies worked, so he ramped things up with his bill again.
“When I do sign off on something,” he said in an interview with FIOS1 News at the time, “my colleagues feel that it is a good deal and they don’t question why I made a certain decision. They know that if that decision was made, it’s for good reason. So I don’t really see there’s going to be much opposition to moving this along.”
Of course, there was opposition, or at least little action for the bill, but his point still remains.
Pretlow’s current bill is essentially the same as his last one. Rather than making online poker specifically legal, it would classify it as a game of skill, which, in turn, makes the game “not gambling” and therefore legal. The bill doesn’t go through every little detail of regulation, but instead authorizes the creation of regulations, the granting of licenses, and the collecting of gaming taxes. The nitty-gritty would be penned later.
Though Pretlow has not had success getting a heck of a lot of movement on his previous online poker bills, that he is introducing another is a good sign. In December, he said that he would prioritize sports betting over poker if it came down to a choice between the two, simply because the sports betting returns in other states have already dominated those of poker.
“Online poker, I think the revenue for the state is projected at $20-25 million, while this is $150 million minimum,” Pretlow told Online Poker Report. “I have a much better argument for sports betting.”
Pretlow seems more than happy to get both online poker and sports betting legalized, but he wants them done their own terms; he will not package poker with a sports betting bill.