New York to consider online poker bill

8 February 2019

New York Representative Gary Pretlow Sr. has put forward a new bill with the aim of legalising online poker in the US state.

Bill A04924, which sets out plans to classify interactive poker as a game of skill rather than luck, has been passed to the New York Committee on Racing and Wagering for consideration. The bill does not specify whether poker would be available via a computer, mobile or both.

The bill includes proposals for the New York State Gaming Commission to launch a licencing process that would be open to operators that already hold a licence to offer video lottery gaming and have some experience of interactive gaming.

The Commission would also consider applicants that hold a licence to operate a Class III gaming facility in the state, while licensed applicants would be able to form a partnership with another company to offer online poker. Licences would be issued no sooner than 180 days after regulation comes into effect.

However, in order to secure a licence, operators would need to pay a one-off fee of $10m (£7.7m/€8.8m), with each online poker licence running for 10 years.

Operators would also face privilege tax at a rate of 15% on gross revenue from interactive gaming activities. This tax, as well any funds derived from penalties imposed by the Commission, would be paid into the New York state lottery fund.

In addition, licensees would be required to have relevant safeguarding measures in place to protect consumers. These should include a verification system to ensure the player is of a legal age to gamble and geolocation technology to stop individuals from accessing their services outside the state's border.

Should the bill progress to become law, it would become effective 180 days after this date.

Confirmation of the ipoker bill comes as New York lawmakers also consider the possibility of legalising sports betting in the state. Last month, the Commission approved regulations that would allow the state’s four commercial casinos to obtain sports betting licences.

However, unlike the new poker bill, the regulations do not include reference to interactive betting, with consumers set to be limited to placing wagers in-person at licensed venues in the state.

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