Online Gambling, Poker and DFS Bills Move in New York, New Jersey, Florida, New Hampshire

Posted on: January 31, 2017, 06:00h. 

Last updated on: January 31, 2017, 06:48h.

Online gambling bills are coming fast and furious to several different states recently.

It’s that time of year. A month into (most) states’ legislative sessions and pols across the US are putting the pedal to the metal.

Senator John Bonacic’s poker bill joins DFS and online gambling bills across US
New York State Senator John Bonacic is hoping his co-sponsor in the Assembly, Gary Pretlow, will put more weight behind his online poker bill this year. (Image: Mike Groll: AP)

On Tuesday, New York Senator John Bonacic introduced his online poker bill, as anticipated. S3898 seeks to have online hold’em and Omaha poker, specifically, redefined as games of skill.

The bill would authorize the New York State Gaming Commission to devise a framework of regulation within 180 days of it becoming law.   

Pretlow’s Misgivings

Bonacic was successful in securing emphatic approval in the Senate last year for S3898’s predecessor, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t do it again this year.

It stalled miserably in the Assembly last year, where it failed to get the necessary push from its co-sponsor Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-89th).

Pretlow clearly had issues with the bill, even declaring at one point that poker was perhaps not a game of skill after all, thus questioning the central tenet of the legislation he had put his name to.

Pretlow appears to have laid some of his doubts to rest, following a consultation session with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, and has declared his intention to throw more weight behind it this year. All eyes on the New York State Assembly this year.     

DFS Promising for New Jersey

Speaking of New Jersey, on Monday the Garden State’s DFS bill sailed through a committee of the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee by a majority of 7-0.

Former Casino Control Commission Chairman Steven Perskie was there to argue that DFS contests were games of skill and should not be classed as gambling under the definition of the New Jersey Constitution, which would place it within the authority of the New Jersey Legislature to authorize and regulate.

Bill A3532, sponsored by Vincent Mazzeo, Ralph Caputo, John Burzichelli, and Thomas Giblin, proposes a tax of between 9.25 percent and 10.5 percent of DFS gross gaming revenues.

On the same day, in Florida, Senator Dana Young presented a standalone DFS bill to compete with DFS regulation already introduced as part of a wider gambling expansion package by Senator Bill Galvano, and another presented by Senator Jason Brodeur.

A bundle of DFS bills are on the table for Floridian legislators to chew on and debate in the coming months.    

New Hampshire’s Confusing Online Gambling Bill

Finally, a slightly unusual online gambling bill also appeared in the New Hampshire legislature this week.

House Bill 562, sponsored by representatives Eric Schleien, Nick Zaricki and Robert Fisher, appears to seek to decriminalize online gambling, rather than regulate or tax it.

The New Hampshire Department of Justice “has neither investigated nor prosecuted online gaming offenses and therefore does not expect this bill to have any impact on expenditures,” it reads.

Exactly what the benefit of this bill is to the state of New Hampshire is a mystery. Let’s hope all will become clear as the legislative session progresses.