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2 February 2016
By Gary Trask
The New York state Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee advanced an online poker bill this morning during a hearing that lasted a swift three minutes and 55 seconds and addressed six different bills.
In a 9-0 vote that was taken before the proceedings began via the live stream, Sen. John Bonacic’s S5302-B online poker bill, which was introduced in May 2015, is now in the hands of the Senate Finance committee, which has yet to set a hearing date. Bonacic also introduced an online poker bill in 2014, but it failed to move beyond committee.
"S.5302-B took a necessary step forward today with its vote out of the Racing Committee," Bonacic said in a statement released by his office after the hearing. "The Bill now goes to the Finance Committee and I anticipate having ongoing discussions with my colleagues in both Houses regarding this bill as session moves forward."
S.5302-B would provide up to 10 licenses for operators who may then provide "certain types of online poker," including Omaha and Texas Hold’em and “any other poker game that the commission determines is the material equivalent of either of those.” Each license would be good for 10 years and cost $10 million, and license holders would pay a 15% state tax on their gross gaming revenue.
The Poker Players Alliance also issued a statement from Executive Director John Pappas applauding the news.
"The PPA thanks Chairman John Bonacic and the Committee for acting quickly to pass iPoker legislation through the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering. If passed into law, the bill would provide New Yorkers who play poker online with a safe and regulated environment, while bringing in revenue for the state," said Pappas. "We encourage the Finance Committee to move quickly to usher the legislation through the Senate, and also urge the Assembly to move forward with their respective legislation."
Pappas also warned against the state waiting to move forward until New York’s commercial casinos are operational, as some lawmakers have suggested.
"It would be a mistake for New York to wait for its brick-and-mortar casinos to go online. Moving Internet poker legislation now would establish an existing customer base of poker players for brick-and-mortar casinos when they open their doors for business," he said.
"It's New York’s turn to give their consumers what New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware constituents already have — a safe and regulated online market that is accountable to the players, regulators and law enforcement."
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