We all love poker, right? I mean, I’m writing articles for a poker news site (though I frequently branch out into non-poker news) and you are reading a poker news site at this very moment. Heck, I’ve been writing for this site since day one, thirteen years ago, so I must think poker is pretty nifty or something. But the reality is, from a pure money generating perspective, it is not as attractive to state governments as online casino games and sports betting are. On Tuesday, Online Poker Report reported that a New York lawmaker – one of poker’s champions in the state the last few years – would be willing to bail on the possibility of legalized online poker in favor of sports betting.
Gary Pretlow Has Put in the Work
That lawmaker is Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow. Pretlow has introduced online poker bills in the Assembly for a number of years, though unlike those introduced by John Bonacic in the State Senate, the bills haven’t made it through. In fact, Pretlow held up his own bill in 2016, expressing concern about online poker operators’ ability to curtail cheating and access by players from forbidden jurisdictions.
Unlike many politicians who just form an opinion and stick to it, Pretlow actually did his due diligence. He headed on over to neighboring New Jersey to speak with the Attorney General and get a crash course on the gaming technologies used in the Garden State. He said he was satisfied that geolocation technologies worked as advertised and anti-cheating firewalls were solid.
Thus, Prelow was back to being poker’s champion and felt he had enough support in the Assembly to get a bill passed.
“When I do sign off on something,” he said in an interview with FIOS1 News, “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.”
Seeing as online poker hasn’t been legalized in New York yet, I’d say there was more opposition than he thought.
Fast forward to this summer and Pretlow said he was just a few votes away from having enough votes, though the Senate, which was a sure thing in the past, did not pass its version of an online poker bill this year.
But while Pretlow has been close to getting enough votes, he hasn’t gotten them. And the reason why could be because online poker hasn’t been the cash cow in New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada that people thought it would be. Sure, it’s been something and it’s been fine, but it hasn’t been a gold mine. Sports betting, though, has been gangbusters since it was legalized this year. As such, Pretlow may be switching his focus.
“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.”
He said he will still introduce a poker bill in 2019, but he will not package it with sports betting. Sports betting is taking priority now in New York. Hopefully, if it works out, lawmakers will be amenable to online poker later.