New York bill aims to declare online poker a game of skill

New York bill aims to declare online poker a game of skill

Marking a bold legislative move, New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-15th) has introduced a new bill that aims to grant legal status to online poker by declaring it as a game of skill. The new bill, which has been designed to make online poker more acceptable to the New York State legislature, has emerged after a broader online casino gaming initiative couldn’t gain the required support. That bill was eventually excluded from Governor Kathy Hochul’s budget in January 2024.

Now, Addabbo is quite optimistic about his new initiative. Introducing the bill, he stressed that it would be more acceptable to the legislature. It may be noted here that Addabbo is the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming & Wagering. It is also worth-noting here that Addabbo or his predecessor, former State Senator John Bonacic, have made numerous attempts to get online poker legalized since the year of 2014.

Several of the previous bills fared well in the New York Senate but failed to gain enough support in the Assembly, where they were championed by Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (a Democrat from 89th).

If approved, Addabbo’s new bill would pave way for creation of up to ten online poker licenses, which would charge operators $10 million each. It recommends poker revenues to be taxed at 15 per cent. It is half the tax figure that was proposed by the senator’s online casino & poker bill.

The New York Gaming Commission (NYGC) would be assigned with the task to come up with details and draw up a regulatory framework for the proposed future online poker market in the state.

The new bill focuses on redefining online poker as a skill game. Addabbo was quick to point out that a federal court in New York has already ruled that poker is mainly a game of skill.

Speaking on the topic, Addabbo also asserted, “As the internet has become an integral part of society, and internet poker a major form of entertainment for many consumers … regulatory oversight [is needed] to safeguard the integrity of the games and participants and to ensure public trust.”

As New York State legislators continue to grapple with fast-evolving landscape of gaming, the new bill marks a crucial step in the direction of modernization of gaming laws in the state. By classifying online poker as a game of skill, the state legislators would be able to pave way for a regulated, safe market for online poker enthusiasts.

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