New York Online Gambling Scoreboard: DFS 2, Poker 1

Final results are in from the two separate legislative battles being waged in New York over online gambling, regarding the respective legalization of daily fantasy sports (DFS) and online poker.  DFS interests won out on Friday, the last day in New York’s legislative session: A bill legalizing DFS play passed both the state’s Assembly and Senate, moving on to the desk of NY Governor Andrew Cuoma, while an online-poker legalization bill that passed the state’s Senate on Tuesday night failed to be included in any other last-minute legislation.

new-york-stampThe DFS bill’s passage likely clears the way for the eventual re-entry of New York into a DFS market that still includes most US states, and still features DFS giants DraftKings and FanDuel.  Several elements of a multi-charge action brought by NY Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman have been settled, though fraud and misrepresentation charges still remain, and a settlement on those remaining counts just might be hastened a bit if Cuomo indeed signs the DFS bill.

As for online poker in New York state, it’s more a tale of back to the drawing board… again.  The S5302 measure of State Sen. John Bonacic that passed overwhelming last week on a 53-5 vote indeed failed to reach a similar call to a vote in the state’s Assembly, as acknowledged by Rep. Gary Pretlow.  Pretlow, according to in-state media reports, simply could not muster enough support for the bill.  The bill’s failure there represents a small setback for the state’s existing casino and parimutuel facilities, many of whom had already announced tentative plans to launch online-poker offerings had the poker measure made it into law.

Pretlow and Bonacic both cited the possible benefits the online-poker authorization would have brought to the state’s online gambling industry as part of the impetus behind the bills, in addition to consumer-protection benefits.  Said Sen. Bonacic, to, “These are policy decisions. I was trying to help the racinos and the casinos. Had that been approved, it would have been private-job creation. I thought it was a good thing for New York.”

MGM’s support for the online-poker bill in New York had already made separate headlines, though the state’s racetracks were also onboard.  According to Jeffrey Gural, the chairman of American Racing, which operators the Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs racetracks and racinos, Tioga Downs would likely have launched an online poker site of its own, had the poker bill been signed into law.

Speaking to, Gural said, “I think [the online poker] is a good idea. The daily fantasy sports doesn’€™t generate money for the state. But the poker would generate real money.” Gural also noted that many New Yorkers continue to play on offshore sites as well.  “You might as well make it legal,” he added.

The triumph of the attention-grabbing but non-revenue-generating DFS concerns over those of a future online-poker market also foiled the eleventh-hour efforts of the Poker Players Alliance to weld the two pushes together.  The PPA launched an energetic but ultimately unsuccessful consumer-action push this week, urging its New York-based members to contact various NY legislative members and show support for the online-poker bill.

However, the real fate of the bills may have resided with Assemblyman Pretlow, who was an energetic supporter of the DFS measure, and who appears to have prioritized that over the Assembly version of the poker measure that he also sponsored.  Did Pretlow gauge that he could only get one online-gambling bill passed in the session’s final days?  And did he perhaps throw online poker under the bus a little bit in order to cater to the headline-grabbing DFS topic?  Those are questions that New Yorkers will continue to ask.  Meanwhile, it’s better luck next session, regarding online poker in New York.


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