Congratulations, New York, you now have twins! Just five weeks after an essentially identical bill was introduced into the State Senate, State Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow (D-Mt. Vernon), who is also the Chairman for the Committee on Racing and Wagering, introduced A09509 in the State Assembly. The bill, which has no official title, would amend New York’s gaming laws to allow for internet poker.
The bill is quite basic, as it does not actually lay out all the rules and regulations for online poker. In fact, regulations would not be due for 180 days from the time this bill passes. And then it wouldn’t be for at least 180 days after that that licenses would be issued.
The bill would legalize both the Hold’em and Omaha variations of poker, though it does leave the door open for other poker games to be included. The text of the bill contends that both Hold’em and Omaha are “complex forms of poker which involve player strategy and decision-making” and are thus fundamentally different from other forms of gambling, which involve much higher degrees of chance.
“The legislature further finds,” the bill continues, “that as the internet has become an integral part of society, and internet poker a major form of entertainment for many consumers, any interactive gaming enforcement and regulatory structure must begin from the bedrock premise that participation in a lawful and licensed gaming industry is a privilege and not a right, and that regulatory oversight is intended to safeguard the integrity of the games and participants and to ensure accountability and the public trust…”
Up to ten licenses will be issued to online poker operators and they will be good for ten years. Said operators will be required to pay fifteen percent of their “interactive gaming gross revenue” as a state tax.
Online poker operators will need to take care of the usual things, such as preventing underage gambling (under 21-years old), preventing compulsive gamblers from playing, and preventing cheating. All player funds must be kept in segregated accounts so that they are kept safe from any financial problems that might affect the operator.
There is also a “bad actor” clause in the bill, which will make ineligible for a license anyone who continued to offer poker to people in the United States after December 31st, 2006 (read: after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act). Thus, New Yorkers can forget about playing on PokerStars or Full Tilt Poker.
The part that may excite players in Nevada and Delaware the most is that the bill does allow for interstate poker compacts. Thus, as long as agreements are reached, with fellow states, players from outside New York could play on New York sites and New Yorkers could play on other states’ sites. Of course, the New York sites will almost certainly be large enough to support themselves without outside help, but in poker, the more the merrier.