Poker is very popular, so why miss out on that segment? I think it’s something that you have to consider. A key lawmaker in New York said he plans to introduce an igaming expansion bill in December that would include peer-to-peer poker and also possibly verbiage to allow the state to enter into a multi-jurisdictional compact to support online poker through shared liquidity.
New York would be an enormous market for online poker if it were legalized. With 19.7 million residents, the Empire State would be the most populous online poker state — by far. Pennsylvania and Michigan come closest, with populations of 13 million and 10 million, respectively. It would transform online poker in the US.
In an exclusive interview with Poker Industry PRO, Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said the bill he plans to introduce in two months calls for legalizing online casino and online lottery. The final bill could be an amended version of S4856, an igaming expansion bill he introduced last February, but could also include parts of A1380, a bill championed by his colleague, Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon).
A1380 called for legalizing online poker in NY, while S4856 focused on launching online casino gaming.
“Sure, it could have some components [of A1380],” Addabbo said of the bill he’s currently drafting. “It’s something I agree with. It shouldn’t just be table games, it should be other games like poker included.”
Addabbo, who serves as chairman of the Committee on Racing, Gaming, and Wagering, said his bill would include “online table games, poker. It would be pretty broad.” It would also authorize peer-to-peer poker, and could also possibly include verbiage that would allow the state to join a multi-jurisdictional compact, such as the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA).
Multi-jurisdictional poker “is something that I’ve thought about. When I’m looking at tournaments, I’m looking at not only in-state tournaments but also state-to-state tournaments.”
“I’ll be proud of the bill that we introduce in December, but it may miss a couple of minor points. That’s what the other [legislative] session is for.”
Next Steps for Bill to Become Law
Asked what the next steps were, Addabbo said he and other supporters of igaming expansion in the legislature will “do our due diligence and do our homework in preparing for next year’s budget.
“According to the state comptroller, there looks to be a deficit. Frankly, if it’s as large as they’re mentioning ($9 billion), one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t cut your way out of a $9 billion budget deficit. You can’t, because you start to cut critical services.”
“Some analysts say we’re sitting on a billion dollars between igaming and iLottery,” he added. “And I would say that’s a billion dollars in revenue, but that’s also a billion dollar loss roughly every year between New Yorkers going to other states — [New] Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, we’re surrounded — or even worse, the illegal market.”
Last March, the Senate did not include S4856 in the state budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul sounded tepid to the idea of expanded igaming.
Addabbo said it was “premature” to speculate on Hochul’s current thinking, but said New York is “now perceived nationally and globally as a growth market for gaming, [and] that’s because of the Hochul Administration.”
“Hochul just needs to add eight words — 'we wish to explore the possibility of igaming’ — to next year’s executive budget in order to help jumpstart the process for expanded igaming in the Empire State.”
“What we’re seeing is that mobile sports betting in New York is being perceived as the number one product in the country,” Addabbo said. “We should build upon that. The timing for igaming is perfect in the sense that we’re showing that New Yorkers have the propensity and the desire to game with a device, as well as going through a brick-and-mortar site.
“But poker is very popular, so why miss out on that segment? I think it’s something that you have to consider.”