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New York Statehouse Considers Online Poker Bill

The online poker market in the Eastern United States is already booming and, if a bill under consideration by the New York State Legislature passes into law, it could get a lot hotter.

Late last week New York state senator Senator John Bonacic introduced S  6913, which would legalize online poker as part of the state’s pari-mutual horse race betting code. The bill includes specific provisions for Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha, but doesn’t mention casino games.

Getting a foot in the New York online gambling market, should it actually open, will be a little on the pricey side. Operators will have to pony up a $10 million licensing fee. That will be in addition to a 15% tax on gross revenue.

If you’re looking to skip the licensing process entirely, the Empire State has also included a clause that nails unlicensed operators for tax evasion.

Though S 6913 doesn’t mention affiliates, it does cover licensing requirements for operators, suppliers and vendors.

One group that won’t be welcome in the New York igaming market are operators that violated the UIGEA and accepted US players after 2006. That means some big names will be excluded from New York entirely.

Bonacic, who also chairs the Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, doesn’t expect the bill to pass on the first try, but is eager to bring online poker to New York state nonetheless.

In an interview with, Bonacic said, “I don’t intend to push this this year,” Bonacic said. “But we need to start a discussion.”

While Bonacic’s bill is likely to give noted igaming opponent Shel Adelson nightmares, other gambling industry figures are pretty excited about the possibility of getting in on the New York market.

MGM Resorts International President Bill Hornbuckle released a statement saying, “New York would be an extraordinary market for this type of entertainment. We are excited by the opportunity to offer online poker to New York players and will pursue it aggressively.”

Given the success of legalized online casino gaming and poker in neighboring New Jersey, Hornbuckle’s excitement isn’t too surprising.

After just three months of regulated play, the Garden State’s foray into regulated igaming is going extremely well.

According to a recent report in EGR Magazine, NJ online gambling brought in a little over $10 million in revenue during the month of February. That’s up a little over 8% over the previous month.

All told, New Jersey online casinos and poker rooms have signed up 24,241 players since legal igaming rolled out in November, 2013.

The real surprise out of New Jersey is that online casino gaming revenue was higher than online poker revenue. Poker only accounted for around $3 million of the total take, while casino games made up the other $7 million.

That’s something that states like New York might want to take into consideration when crafting igaming regulations.