New Yorkers who may still be holding out hope for lawmakers to approve online poker this year can officially lay those hopes to rest as the matter is dead.
The writing had been on the wall for some time that regulated online poker wasn’t exactly a priority among Empire State legislators. Those lawmakers have been more preoccupied with mobile sports betting and getting that platform legalized and up and running.
Once sports betting is on firm ground, there still will be no rush to quickly follow with online poker as it is anticipated that the powers that be will take a “wait and see” approach with regard to how problems associated with wagering on sports will be addressed. Those problems include compulsive and underage gambling.
Opponents of gambling will likely be at the ready to point out any missteps or anecdotal evidence of the negative effects of regulated sports betting. How that all plays out could have a big effect on whether or not online poker will enter the picture in the future.
Promising Start Fizzles
While the sports betting crowd are undoubtedly pleased that New York legislators have shifted their focus to bills pertaining to wagering on sports, online poker players are once again placed in a holding pattern. It didn’t start out that way when 2019 began as online poker legislation was quickly introduced when the New Year arrived.
New York Sen. Joe Addabbo volleyed an online poker bill in the first week of January that sought to categorize poker as a game of skill. The proposal called for almost a dozen licenses open to operators who had no qualms with paying a fee of $10 million for 10 years plus a 15% tax rate.
The following month, Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow also got into the act with a poker bill of his own. Both bills went to different committees where they languished, neither hide nor hair of either to be seen again.
What began as a promising start morphed into a disappearing act, falling victim to a growing interest in sports betting that has spread beyond New York and has reached more than half of the 50 states. We can thank the US Supreme Court for overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May 2018 for that.
That ruling allows states to offer sports betting as they see fit. While the initial reaction of many to the Supreme Court decision was that sports betting legalization would likely help online poker regulation efforts, that certainly hasn’t been the case – especially in New York where now we see that the PASPA reversal is hindering the regulation of online poker.
Players Have Options
New York lawmakers had at least been talking about legalizing online poker every year for the past half-dozen or so. In all likelihood, the subject may not even be broached in 2020, not with sports betting still regarded as the hot potato.
New York online poker players still have options available as sites like Black Chip Poker, Americas Cardroom and BetOnline Poker continue to welcome them with open arms. That looks how things will remain – at least for the foreseeable future – as New York is nowhere near regulating online poker in 2019, and perhaps beyond.