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New York Online Poker Initiative Supported by MGM

A new public initiative seeking to regulate New York online poker continues to gather steam, this time including the support of twin social-media presences backed by MGM Resorts International.  The initiative, called “Let NY Play,” is designed to drum up popular support for the legalization of i-poker within the state.

The new “Let NY Play” offerings debuted on Facebook around September 10th and Twitter on September 26th, with the possibility of more social-media outposts in the future.  One of the earliest messages distributed via the new online presences was to note that poker players in neighboring New Jersey are able to play poker online; New Jersey, to date, remains one of only three US states that has formally authorized online-poker play.

let-ny-play-logo“Share this if you think New Yorkers should be able to play safe online poker just like our friends in New Jersey,” read the organization’s initial Facebook post.  Similar messages have been offered in follow-up posts and Tweets.

The latest wave of interest in the social startup has been boosted by a recent feature in the NY Times, which noted the online presences’ link to MGM.  It’s of more than casual interest to many New Yorkers, because of the state’s increased push toward increased gambling availability.

Both brick-and-mortar casinos and online-gambling options have been on the state’s legislative agenda in recent years, with the licenses for several new casinos in New York in the process of being awarded.  MGM, however, neither currently operates an existing New York State casino or is in the application process for one of the yet-to-be-awarded casino licenses.

MGM, however, has been active in promoting online gambling in New York, viewing the state as one of the likeliest to enact regulatory legislation in the near future.  MGM threw its support behind the NY intrastate online-poker legislation that was first introduced by State Senator John Bonacic in March.  That bill was followed up by the introduction of a similar Assembly measure — sponsored by Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow — in May.

Both bills have languished during the state’s 2014 legislative session, failing to draw enough political support to move forward to date.  Nonetheless, public interest in New York regulating online poker for its residents continues to grow.  Among a handful of recent in-state reports: A survey attached to a feature at the Staten Island offering SILive.com, which includes an informal poll questioning readers on the topic.  Despite having no scientific basis for a study, the poll has received three times as many votes in favor of NY online poker as compared with those against the concept.

So what’s next for online poker’s prospects in New York State?  Bonacic, the State Senator who introduced the initial bill, has remained in contact with MGM management.  However, he’s advised them, according to the NY Times feature, that getting approval for online poker would “take a while,” and based on the experience of neighboring New Jersey, early revenue returns from the industry would be modest.  The Times also received a follow-up quote from Pretlow, who replied that ongoing issues with the state’s new brick-and-mortar casino licenses needed to be resolved first.

New York appears poised to be among the next wave of US states where online poker is legalized, joining others such as California, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Mississippi and Illinois in that category.  For New Yorkers, the earliest date possible would be late 2015, though 2016 or later is a more likely bet.

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