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New York Senate Votes in Favor of Bill that would Legalize Online Poker, Passes 53 to 5


Last Tuesday, June 14, the New York State Senate overwhelmingly voted in favor for Bill S05302D, at 53 for, 5 against. The bill would allow some variations of online poker to circumvent New York laws prohibiting gambling, which is defined as games based on luck. The poker games would fall under the definition of "games of skill," and would be regulated and taxed accordingly.

The New York State Assembly has yet to debate and vote upon the bill.

The bill allows "certain interactive poker games be considered games of skill rather than games of luck; includes definitions, authorization, required safeguards and minimum standards, the scope of licensing review and state tax implications; makes corresponding penal law amendments."

Texas Hold Em and Omaha Hold Em are the variants of poker that would be exempt from the "games of luck" classification. Players frequenting online poker rooms would need to be at least 21 years old.

Bill S05302D would implement mandated 10 year licenses to run online poker game rooms. The state will only give out 11 licenses; each license will cost its purchaser $10 million. This $10 million would also go towards taxes the licensee would pay on their earnings, taxes of 15%. Unlike many other states legalizing new, online forms of gambling, the state of New York is not required to give the funds to its education department.

The General Counsel for MGM, John McManus, commented: "Creating a safe, regulated option for online poker players in New York would generate millions in new tax revenue that could be used for education and other critical investments."

"We applaud the Senate for passing this sensible legislation that will help protect New Yorkers who have for years played online poker on unprotected, off shore poker websites that today operate with no regulation, fraud controls, or age restrictions," he added.

The bill, of course, had its detractors, however few. Liz Krueger, Democrat Senator from Manhattan, debated the bill for over half an hour. She claims online gambling has a much higher risk of addiction than other forms at brick and mortar casinos.

"Whether you call it gambling or not, it's gambling," she said.

This makes New England start to look like America's online gaming hub. New York would be the fourth US state to legalize online gambling, following Nevada and its neighbors Delaware and New Jersey. Pennsylvania and Virginia are also examining online poker options. In addition, New York's state assembly also recently passed a bill that would eventually allow online daily fantasy sports to be considered a "game of luck."

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