New York Narrowly Misses Mark For Online Poker

New York Assembly chambers

New York was extremely close to introducing legal online poker. According to NY Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, the state was 8 Democratic votes away from being able to pass online poker. This pushes any possible online poker introduction to likely sometime in 2019.

Pretlow’s name is associated with any piece of gambling reform in New York. He is also the representative pushing for the NY sports betting bill to get through, but that also fell flat on its face. Multiple states have already sports gambling legislation this year in anticipation of PASPA’s repeal.  However, New York was not one of them.

Pretlow admitted that the online poker bill took a backseat to the sports betting bill, perhaps hindering any chances of it getting passed. Pretlow stated he originally had commitments from 68 Democrats in support of A 5250. When the dust settled, the bill had signatures from 47 Democrats and 4 Republicans, and no chance of online poker for New Yorkers.

The bill needs a total of 76 signatures in order to pass through. There are a total of 150 seats in the New York Assembly, meaning 76 would be enough to achieve a majority. If a bill has 76 signatures, the Speaker of the Assembly is obligated to push the bill out onto the floor for an official vote. The current Speaker is Carl Heastie. Heastie holds all the power when it comes to which bills hit the floor, but majority support would compel him to introduce this poker bill. The catch is that the signatures need to be from the majority party, which happens to be Democratic.

Pretlow claims he had the support of 30 Republicans, which would have been more than enough signatures to force Heastie to introduce the bill, however they were from the wrong party affiliation. Therefore, these signatures are essentially useless. Pretlow is confident that if the bill had actually made it to the floor it would’ve passed by at least 90 votes.

This isn’t the first case of failure with online poker in New York. Pretlow has tried and failed several other times, despite doing everything in his power to inform his constituents and the general public about the benefits of regulated online poker. With each failure, Pretlow claims the case for this bill grows stronger. Assemblyman Clyde Vanel joined Pretlow in pushing this bill out. Vanel’s association drew more support than ever before. The DOJ redefined the Federal Wire Act in 2011, and NY seems to be running in circles in trying to get some type of online gambling initiative approved.

Senator John Bonacic will be retiring soon. This complicates things for online poker in New York on the Senate Level. Bonacic has long been a proponent of gambling reform. With him gone, there is a new risk of the majority not voting the way Pretlow would like. 2018 is an election year for some of these lawmakers, complicating things even further. This means that New York may not be able to get online poker or sports betting introduced until sometime next year. These elections could end up benefiting Pretlow. You can be sure that once he has the support he needs online poker will launch quickly.