Only Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware have legalized online gambling and poker so far, but a number of other states are in the hunt to get in on the action. New York is in the running as they - along with the state of Pennsylvania - have been discussing this issue for a while now. It looks like it's just a matter of time before online poker players can take a bite out of the Big Apple.
Assemblyman Gary Pretlow put forth the A5250 bill, which argues that poker is a game of skill, not a game of chance, and that's a key distinction. That would allow them to shoot for only poker and not other games such as slot machines. Pretlow is going the same route as daily fantasy sports companies did in 2016. DraftKings and FanDuel were legislated by Governor Andrew Cuomo last year using the same argument, although that is a battle that continues to be fought.
Stop Predatory Gambling is suing the New York daily fantasy sports bill by claiming it is expanding the parameters of gambling, which is actually against the New York constitution. In reality, everyone still plays online but the question is whether the government will legalize it, regulate it and tax it.
The A5250 bill is the same as the S3893 bill that was proposed in January by New York State Senator John Bonacic as he also wants poker declared as a game of skill. It was passed by a margin of 53-5 in 2016 by the Senate, but the Assembly was due to be the next obstacle in the way and Pretlow has taken up the fight. He seemed like he was discouraged a little in the middle of the year, but that was before daily fantasy sports was legislated. Now it doesn't look like much is standing in the way of New York joining the ranks of online poker in 2017.
There are a few other states looking to pick up online poker as another stream of revenue as Pennsylvania is still tossing the topic around. California is always being discussed, likely because of its sheer size and liberal values, while Michigan, New England, Illinois and Indiana are all reportedly in the mix to put this topic on the list of future priorities.
The transition with the new administration might be making it difficult to table these discussions right now as there are plenty of other issues going on, but online poker can be another revenue stream for many states who definitely need it right now.
All eyes need to be on New York as they decide on the legislation of online poker as this would not only be a big legal win for the game but also a big public relations boost. If that's the case, we could see a number of other states follow their lead not long after.