Optimism Grows for NY Online Poker

Will this be the year that New York finally sees significant progress in its efforts to introduce online poker?  Despite the fact that the state failed to include online poker in the state’s budget, it soon became clear that there was greater support for a legal and regulated industry than previously believed.

New York Assemblyman Clyde Vanel, the chair for the Subcommittee on Internet and New Technology, was instrumental in getting over 60 Democrats to sign a letter in support of including online poker into the budget. When that wasn’t successful, the lawmaker turned his efforts to changing those signatures to become co-sponsors of A 5250 – a bill proposed by Assemblyman Gary Pretlow to allow online poker sites in New York.  The bill had 13 co-sponsors before Vanel began his campaign, and it may soon have as much as 70 co-sponsors.

“The budget effort didn’t work, but that happens with negotiations,” Vanel said. “What the exercise did is make us see that there’s more support for online poker than we previously thought.”

Vanel added that Pretlow was a “great champion” for legalized online poker and he now had the partners to “bring it through”.

“The next few weeks will show some traction for the bill. With enough co-sponsors, I like it to get out of committee and onto the floor,” said Vanel. “I think we have a good shot of getting it through this year.”

Vanel is a relatively new name in New York’s battle for legal online poker. He indicated that online poker was definitely an area that deserved state regulation when he was first asked to lead the Subcommittee of Internet and New Technology. He said at the time that he believed that online gambling was an area where New York could definitely improve.  “We have poker in New York but we’re not allowed it online,” he said. “Folks can’t articulate why.”

According to Vanel, allowing state casinos to offer online poker would be a good policy for New York.  Not only could authorities protect consumers from what he terms “unscrupulous websites”, but they could also help protect problem gamblers by having safeguards in place. The biggest advantage, he said, would be helping casinos that aren’t making enough revenue.

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