Posts Tagged ‘York’

Online Poker Bill Passes New York Senate Gaming Committee

 Online Poker Bill Passes New York Senate Gaming Committee

If at first you don’t succeed…you know how it goes. Such is the case in the New York state legislature, where for the third consecutive year, a bill which would legalize and regulate online poker has made it through the Senate Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee. S3898 passed easily by a 10-1 vote and now moves on to the Senate Finance Committee.

There was significant movement with the bill last year, as it not only made it out of the Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee, but also the Finance Committee and then passed a vote of the full Senate in mid-June. Despite having half the year to get through the Assembly, it never even made it out of committee there. And it’s not even that it lost a vote; the Assembly really just didn’t bother with it.

One would think that it would move fairly quickly this time, as it is the same bill as last year. It was introduced around this time in 2017, getting through the first committee and reported to Finance in mid-February. Now, I don’t know what Senate schedules look like and there are certainly more pressing issues in Albany, New York than online poker, but it wouldn’t be difficult to envision lawmakers shuttling S3898 through the process in a hurry to get it over to the Assembly with as much time left in the year as possible.

Most of the bill is standard fare, but shortly before the full Senate vote last year, the dreaded “bad actor” clause was added. This type of clause, which has been seen in other online poker legislation, punishes operators who continued to accept U.S. players after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed in 2006. Some bad actor clauses outright ban these operators, while others delay their licensing application or assess fines.

The bad actor clause in the New York legislation says that, among others, this factor may be looked like by the New York Gaming Commission when evaluating the suitability of an applicant:

(f) Whether the applicant:

(i) has at any time, either directly, or through another person whom it owned, in whole or in significant part, or controlled:

(A) knowingly and willfully accepted or made available wagers on interactive gaming (including poker) from persons located in the United States after December thirty-first, two thousand six, unless such wager were affirmatively authorized by law of the United States or of each state in which persons making such wagers were located; or

(B) knowingly facilitated or otherwise provided services with respect to interactive gaming (including poker) involving persons located in the United States for a person described in clause (A) of this subparagraph and acted with knowledge of the fact that such wagers or interactive gaming involved persons located in the United States; or

(ii) has purchased or acquired, directly or indirectly, in whole or in significant part, a person described in subparagraph (i) of this paragraph or will use that person or a covered asset in connection with interactive gaming licensed pursuant to this article.

It does not appear that this bad actor clause is of the strictest variety, as it does not say that such an operator would be automatically deemed ineligible to receive an online gaming license. Rather, an operators actions after the UIGEA should be considered by the Commission.

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New York Governor Approves Credit Card, Internet Sales for Charitable Raffles

 New York Governor Approves Credit Card, Internet Sales for Charitable Raffles

It’s not online poker, but New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill to little fanfare a week and a half ago that allows charities to accept credit and debit cards for raffles as well as sell raffle tickets over the internet. The “Charitable Gaming Act of 2017” was introduced in February and passed both the House and Senate in June. Cuomo vetoed a similar bill last year and it came as a surprise to many when he gave his seal of approval to this one.

When one thinks of charity raffles, one often thinks of churches or schools. The driving force behind the efforts to get this law passed, though, was the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, and specifically its nonprofit arm, the Buffalo Sabres Foundation. The Sabres run a “50/50” raffle at every home game (41 of them per year, not counting playoffs) in which fans in attendance can buy raffle tickets with cash. The winner of the raffle receives 50 percent of the pot, with the other half going to the Foundation for its charitable causes.

According to the Buffalo News, the Foundation raised $ 1.1 million from 50/50 sales last year (it also holds the raffle at Buffalo Bandits lacrosse games), a number which made up more than half of the money it raised from all events.

Rich Jureller, president of the Buffalo Sabres Foundation, was very pleased about the new law, telling the Buffalo News, “It’s really going to create a lot of opportunities for us and any charity that wants to use new technology and new rules we have.”

One of the problems the Sabres have had with the 50/50 is that tickets could only be purchased with cash. The Charitable Gaming Act of 2017 will allow debit and credit card purchases, giving fans more options.

“It should certainly help us sell more tickets. And I’d imagine someone with $ 5 in cash would want to spend $ 10 [with a card],” Jureller said.

And of course, being able to expand sales to the internet could boost charitable raffles even more. The Buffalo Sabres Foundation imagines fans just pulling out their smartphones while at the games and buying raffle tickets as a matter of convenience. Fans watching the games on television could also participate.

The new law will take effect in six months. At that time, charities can begin advertising raffles online (and via newspaper, magazine, and other physical means, as well) and take debit and credit card sales over the internet.

The bill itself does not stipulate where raffle ticket buyers must be located, but it sounds like there will be some limitations. According to the Buffalo News piece, Senator Patrick Gallivan said that online sales will be restricted to customers local to the charitable organization. The Sabres, though, “believe it can sell online to people in Erie County and eight surrounding counties, except to people who are buying tickets while located in any locality that might ban the online sales.”

A spokesman for the state’s Gaming Commission said that the New York’s raffle law states that “charities can sell raffle tickets outside its premises provided local governments have OK’d such games of chance within their jurisdictions. Those sales can occur in the county in which the charity is located or in contiguous counties only if the charity has been gotten a raffle-selling license from those localities.”

Everything will be ironed out as the Gaming Commission determines the regulations over the next six months.

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New York Online Poker Bill Passes Senate Finance Committee

 New York Online Poker Bill Passes Senate Finance Committee

It is on to the full Senate for a bill that would regulate and legalize online poker in New York state, as the bill has passed the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday by a 27-9 vote. On Valentine’s Day, the bill passed the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee by a unanimous 11-0 vote.

The purpose of S3898, according to the text of the bill itself, is:

To authorize the New York State Gaming Commission to license certain entities to offer for play to the public certain variants of internet poker which require a significant degree of skill, specifically “Omaha
Hold’em” and “Texas Hold’em.”

Straightforward, it is (Yoda…I am?).

The bill is sponsored by Republican State Senator John Bonacic, who has taken up the online poker cause during the last few years. He introduced a bill last year and everything was going well, especially when it sailed through the Senate by a 53-5 vote, but the Assembly never even voted on it.

Bonacic has been confident about his bill this year, telling GamblingCompliance, “Last year, there was too much gaming for the Assembly to consider with fantasy sports and the efforts in New Jersey for a referendum to put a casino in the Meadowlands, and I really think that it got put on the back burner. So now we are putting it in the front burner.”

We won’t bore our readers with all of the finer points of the poker bill, but some of the provisions, as we listed out in February, as well, include:

•    Permits the state to enter into interstate gaming compacts so that player pools can be combined.
•    15 percent tax on gross gaming revenue
•    A maximum of ten licensed operators who must pay a licensing fee of $ 10 million each. Licenses would be good for ten years.
•    Most forms of poker would be authorized, even though the above “purpose” statement only mentions Hold’em and Omaha (that was likely just a simplification, as Hold’em and Omaha are the two most popular forms of online poker – there would be no reason to exclude other forms, like Stud).
•    When and if the bill is signed into law, there will be a 180-day grace period before licenses can be issued and games can start, likely to make sure the state is properly prepared.
•    Operating an online poker site without a license is a crime. Unlicensed operators will be both fined and taxed.

One of the reasons that the bill didn’t get voted upon in the state Assembly last year was Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, who was actually the sponsor of the Assembly’s version of the bill. In a February interview with FIOS1 News’s Andrew Whitman, he said that he was not confident about operators’ ability to prevent cheating. Fortunately, after visiting New Jersey’s Attorney General, he came away impressed and is now “satisfied” that cheating can be prevented as much as is reasonably possible. Pretlow now believes the bill shouldn’t have problems in the New York Assembly, assuming it gets there.

“When I do sign off on something,” he told Whitman, “my colleagues feel that it is a good deal and they don’t question why I made a certain decision. They know that if that decision was made, it’s for good reason. So I don’t really see there’s going to be much opposition to moving this along.”

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New York Assemblyman Confident Online Poker Bill Will Move Forward

 New York Assemblyman Confident Online Poker Bill Will Move Forward

Last year, arguably online poker’s biggest supporter in the New York legislature was the one who put the kibosh on the possibility of the game becoming legal in the state. Now, Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow has expressed confidence that something will get done on the matter this year.

In 2016, a bill which would legalize and regulate online poker passed the New York Senate easily by a vote of 53-5. Pretlow had a similar bill in the Assembly and had been championing poker for a number of years, so one would have thought that the bill would at least have a fighting chance after it moved on from the Senate. Not so. Pretlow had concerns about the ability of online poker operators to prevent cheating and to ensure that only players from within state borders could access the sites, so the bill was never even voted upon.

Speaking with Andrew Whitman of New York’s FIOS1 News last week, Pretlow said his concerns have been alleviated. He made a “field trip” to New Jersey, where online gambling is legal, to speak with the Attorney General to learn more and to view gaming technologies in action. He came away “satisfied” that geolocation technologies works and that there are sufficient barriers to cheating in place. Thus, he feels comfortable moving forward in New York to try to get online poker legalized.

Whitman asked him about the reclassification of poker from a game of chance to a game of a skill. Though Pretlow did not straight-out say that poker is definitely a game of skill, he made his case in a round-about way, saying that it just depends on the player. For some, chance plays a greater role and for others, skill plays a greater role.

While Pretlow does not know if the Governor would eventually sign an online poker bill into law, he feels confident that he will have enough support in the Assembly to get it through.

“When I do sign off on something,” he told Whitman, “my colleagues feel that it is a good deal and they don’t question why I made a certain decision. They know that if that decision was made, it’s for good reason. So I don’t really see there’s going to be much opposition to moving this along.”

The process of legalizing and regulating online poker in New York has already gotten underway this year. A couple weeks ago, Senator John Bonacic’s bill, S 3898 easily made it through the Senate’s Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering by a unanimous vote. It will now be looked at by the Senate Finance Committee.

It is a fairly straightforward bill, allowing a maximum of ten online operating licenses with a fee of $ 10 million each. Though the bill only specifically mentions hold’em and Omaha, it is assumed that most forms of poker would be permitted. Players must be at least 21-years old and be within state borders, though the bill opens up the opportunity to form interstate compacts so that New York could pool its players with other states.

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New York Online Poker Bill Passes First Senate Committee by Unanimous Vote

 New York Online Poker Bill Passes First Senate Committee by Unanimous Vote

When New York State Senator John Bonacic once again introduced a bill to legalize and regulate online poker in the state in late January, it was expected that it would get through the Senate’s Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering fairly quickly. That expectation was correct. On Tuesday, Bonacic’s bill, S 3898, passed by a unanimous 11-0 vote and has now been advanced to the Senate Finance Committee.

The purpose of the bill, as stated on the bill’s webpage on the New York State Senate website, is quite simple:

To authorize the New York State Gaming Commission to license certain entities to offer for play to the public certain variants of internet poker which require a significant degree of skill, specifically “Omaha
Hold’em” and “Texas Hold’em.”

It also “….includes definitions, authorization, required safeguards and minimum standards, the scope of licensing review and state tax implications; makes corresponding penal law amendments.”

Some of the bill’s key points:

•    Permits the state to enter into interstate gaming compacts so that player pools can be combined.
•    15 percent tax on gross gaming revenue
•    A maximum of ten licensed operators who must pay a licensing fee of $ 10 million each. Licenses would be good for ten years.
•    Most forms of poker would be authorized, even though the above “purpose” statement only mentions hold’em and Omaha.
•    When and if the bill is signed into law, there will be a 180-day grace period before licenses can be issued and games can start, likely to make sure the state is properly prepared.
•    Operating an online poker site without a license is a crime. Unlicensed operators will be both fined and taxed.

Needless to say, if New York got an online poker industry up and running, that bit about interstate compacts being allowed is enormous. One would think that Nevada and Delaware, who have an agreement to share player pools, would be on the phone with New York immediately to try to get the Empire State on board. As readers of this site likely understand, online poker is all about player liquidity. Lots of players means active tables means more revenue. And the more activity the tables have, the more attractive the sites look to prospective players, resulting in more people signing up and the activity becoming even greater.

The reverse is also true: low activity leads to less attractive poker rooms leads to fewer signups and ultimately exiting players. Nevada and Delaware have fewer than 3 million residents between them (estimated) and can barely keep poker rooms going. New York, on the other hand, has nearly 20 million residents plus tons of visitors for both work and tourism every day. A combination with New York would do wonders for Nevada’s and Delaware’s online poker business.

Bonacic has made the regulation of online poker one of his primary focuses in the last several years, but obviously has never been able to get it done. His bill conquered the Senate easily last year, passing by a 53-5 vote, but was never voted upon in the Assembly.

Bonacic feels more confident this year, telling GamblingCompliance (premium content ahead), “Last year, there was too much gaming for the Assembly to consider with fantasy sports and the efforts in New Jersey for a referendum to put a casino in the Meadowlands, and I really think that it got put on the back burner. So now we are putting it in the front burner.”

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