Regulated Online Poker Bill Roundup: New York, Pennsylvania, California, Mississippi

Dustin Gouker : May 18th, 2015
Online Poker 2011

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Several states have been working on bills to legalize and regulate online poker in the United States, with legislation in New York, Mississippi and California. Here’s a brief roundup of what’s going on in all those states.

New York

Just last week, New York again introduced a bill to regulate online poker in the state legislature. A similar bill in 2014 failed to gain much traction.

Online Poker Report handicapped the bill’s outlook here, and it does not seem like there will be much momentum behind passage of the legislation, at least this year.

The bill — which originated from New York State Senator John Bonacic — would allow people in the state to play online poker. A company would have to pay $10 million for a license to operate, and those companies would be taxed at a rate of 15 percent on gaming revenue. Last year’s bill included a bad actor clause, but that is no longer the case. That means, theoretically, that PokerStars would be allowed to enter the market, if the bill were to become law.

If nothing else, the bill is at least staying in the minds of lawmakers. And as nearby states either have online poker (New Jersey and Delaware) or are considering it (Pennsylvania), the possibility of online poker will likely remain in play.

Bill tracking: S 5302

Pennsylvania

Out of all the states listed here, Pennsylvania likely has the best chance of actually passing an online poker bill. There are several bills that would regulate online poker — and even one that would ban online gaming. The one to keep an eye on is HB 649, introduced by John Payne, chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee.

There is so much momentum for regulation that casinos and online gaming operators have started partnering with each other, in the event that iGaming opens up in the state. Online Poker Report breaks down all the potential and existing relationships here. OPR also has gone so far as to put together gaming revenue forecasts if a bill is passed.

Bill tracking: HB 649

California

California has tried to work on an online poker bill for several years now, to no avail. For the first time, however, a bill is actually making some progress.

The Assembly Governmental Organization Committee actually passed a bill that deals with regulating online poker last month, the first time a bill has gotten even that far in the state legislature. The only problem? There are pretty much no details worked out, so far, as it’s still just a “shell” bill meant as a placeholder to work out the particulars later.

There are a variety of stakeholders that are not yet on the same page, including tribal interests, cardrooms, horse tracks and iGaming operators. If and when they all agree on what online regulated poker should like in California, iPoker in the country’s biggest state might not be far behind.

Bill tracking: AB 431

Mississippi

Much like New York, there are parties that would like the state to open to online gaming and poker. But despite repeated attempts to introduce a bill, regulation of iGaming has never come close to fruition in the state. A bill failed in February.

The latest news came from the Sun Herald in Mississippi, in which Rep. Richard Bennett, chairman of the House Gaming Committee, talks about the prospects of iGaming. He said sports betting and a lottery have a better chance, in the near term, than online poker and other forms of online gaming.

“In Mississippi right now, it’s just too early for us to look at going to Internet gaming,” he said. It would have to be conducted strictly within state boundaries, and he said half the people in Mississippi don’t have a computer or Internet access.

On Twitter: @Dustin Gouker

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