Another Bill Introduced to Regulate New York Online Poker Another Bill Introduced to Regulate New York Online Poker

Could the third time be the charm for New York online poker?

That’s likely the question on everybody’s mind as Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), one of the strongest supporters of regulated real money online poker in New York, introduces his third igaming expansion bill of the session.

The latest bill is S9226. It was introduced Tuesday and promptly sent to the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming, and Wagering.

It’s the same committee where another of the three igaming bills Addabbo introduced during the 2023-2024 session is parked. Whether either of the bills ultimately get a hearing before the New York State General Assembly recesses on June 6 remains to be seen, but there’s one piece of good news — Addabbo is the committee’s chairman.

Addabbo introduced S8185 (explained below) in January and S4856 back in February 2023. The latter is considered a dead bill.

What’s in the Bill?

Here are the details surrounding S9226. The latest bill proposes:

  • Up to 10 licenses for real money online poker
  • Operators paying a one-time licensing fee of $10 million
  • Licenses having a ten-year term
  • A 15% tax rate on GGR

Those are very similar details to A1380, a bill that Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon) introduced back in January 2023. One difference: Pretlow’s bill called for issuing 11 licenses for poker.

What Needs to Happen Now

If Addabbo thinks he has the votes to get S9226 to pass the seven-member Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming, and Wagering, he’ll likely try to call a committee hearing before the legislature enters a recess on June 6.

The legislature doesn’t meet every day of the week. In fact, it doesn’t meet on Fridays at all. Including Wednesday, there are only 16 days left in the session.

Not that that matters too much. The New York State Legislature will recess on June 6 — that’s not the same thing as an adjournment. New York law allows legislative leaders to call lawmakers back for a committee hearing and things of the like. The session doesn’t end until the first few days of January 2025, meaning the bill could win passage all the way up to then.

Since Addabbo chairs a Senate committee, it’s possible he could gavel the panel in for a quick hearing on S9226. He could potentially get the bill to the Senate floor for a vote.

That said, it’s unclear at this early stage what the prospects for passage are. Consider that separate legislation introduced by Addabbo and Pretlow weren’t included in the executive budget that Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul introduced in January.

Lower Taxes, More Expensive Licenses

Addabbo’s latest proposal could have the formula to win over skeptical lawmakers.

A separate bill he introduced in January, S8185, calls for legalizing online casinos along with poker. Legalizing online casino is still a touchy subject in New York, with the Hotel and Gaming Trades Council (HTC), a powerful union of land-based casino workers. Online poker should be a non-issue.

S9226 is a better deal for operators, too — they would only be taxed at 15% of gross gaming revenue. By comparison, S8185 would have levied a 30.5% tax rate on both poker and casino gaming. They would pay $10 million for a license under the latest proposal, up from $2 million under S8185.

Ten licenses should be plenty. The top three operators for real money online poker in the USBetMGM, PokerStars, and WSOP — will want to enter the market. Rush Street Interactive (RSI) will also want to launch its online poker platform, BetRivers Poker, which is currently in development.