The Fight for Online Poker in New York

As it has always been the case, the potential revenue from gambling has always been among the biggest motivators for state officials to legalize and regulate fully-fledged sports betting and internet gambling. However, as in several other states, the efforts for legalizing online poker have still not borne any fruits.

Online Poker


Back in 2016, New York State made a significant step ahead. Senator John Bonacic and assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow in the House of Representatives sponsored a bill on online poker. The bill only wanted to push forth online and regulated poker, with no online casino games like in New Jersey State. The bill, however, perished in the assembly. This was after Pretlow had conveyed doubts concerning the security of the games owing to concerns raised by colleague lawmakers.


Even after being shot down the previous years, the 2 legislators introduced bills in 2017 again. In June, the Senate passed the proposals by a 54-8 margin. Once more a companion bill failed to progress just as it had happened in 2016. Despite Pretlow initially expressing optimism for extensive support of the bill, the bad actor clause brought about division in the ranks. The bad actor clause is what had held the online poker debate in California for years. The same provision that caused a similar concern in New York State.

The bad actor clause penalizes operators who carried on serving US clients after the 2016 illegal online betting act was passed and became law. The firm that wanted to enter the USA market under this status is PokerStars. PokerStars runs in New Jersey under complete observance and hefty examination. Even as it dominates the market, some still want it barred from their state.


In April 2018, Assemblyman Clyde came out as the new champion for the regulation of online poker. Clyde Vanel acquired around 70 co-supporters for the bill. He planned to put the bill up for voting in June, and in a couple of weeks, the Assemblyman had already captured 50 sponsors for the online poker bill. As the head of the Internet and New Technology Subcommittee, Mr. Vanel was in a great position to move the legislation forward. Even so, the poker bill still perished and the fight was left for another day.


When senator John Bonacic retired, a new champion for NY online poker emerged almost immediately. Senator Joe Addabbo initiated the S.00018. This was a bill to authorize online poker by only categorizing it as a game of skill. Nearly a month later, Gary Pretlow proposed A.04924, which was a replica of Senator Addabbo’s Bill. However, there has been no extra movement on any of the bills perhaps because the legislators are still fine-tuning the details. Hopes have never been higher for the legalization of poker especially after the repeal of PASPA in 2018 and official legalization of online sports betting in New York.