Follow The Money: New York Senate Includes Online Poker Legalization In Its Budget

Posted By Dustin Gouker on March 14, 2017

[toc]The New York Senate included regulation of online poker in its budget for the next fiscal year.

It’s the latest momentum for iPoker in the statehouse during a push to legalize it in 2017 after substantial progress last year.

New York online poker and the budget

The Senate released its proposed version of the budget for the 2017-2018 state fiscal year, which you can see here.

The language is lifted from bills already active in both the Senate and the House. Sen. John Bonacic introduced his online poker bill earlier this year.

Online poker is just a small part of a very big piece of the revenue pie in New York. The Senate budget is in excess of $160 billion for the fiscal year. But revenue from poker would like be in the tens of millions of dollars in year one, because of initial licensing fees.

The Senate overwhelmingly approved online poker legislation in 2016, before the bill died in the Assembly with no action.

What about the Assembly?

Online poker does not appear in the Assembly version of the bill, but that is not a non-starter for poker being in the final legislative budget.

It also does not appear in the proposed budget of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Assemblymember J. Gary Pretlow was a stumbling block for online poker previously.

But interviews on the subject this year make it appear like he is eager to move forward with the legislation. He has also said it would be possible that online poker could end up in the legislative budget, despite its absence in the Assembly version.

Pretlow also introduced an online poker bill that is identical to Bonacic’s.

Will online poker stick and what’s next?

The development in the statehouse happens with this caveat: Putting online poker in the budget is a step that the Senate also took last year. However, the online poker language did not end up in the final budget.

We also don’t know where Cuomo stands on online poker.

But if it’s a measure that makes it into the budget with the approval of both houses, then it is more unlikely to get pushback from the governor’s office.

If online poker is going to end up in the legislative budget, its inclusion is likely to be known this month. Joint committee hearings about the budget between the Assembly and Senate are slated to take place over the next two weeks.

Final versions of the budget should surface by the end of the month.

Will online poker make the cut? We may find out soon.

Image credit: Jay Yuan /

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Dustin Gouker

Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about online poker and the online gambling industry since 2008.

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