Coming into 2017, many in the poker media felt that New York and Pennsylvania were the states most likely to pass online poker legislation. Unfortunately, things have not gone as hoped and it now appears that neither will be able to pass a bill.
New York iGambling Bill Officially Dead
The last thing that NY online poker supporters wanted to hear was that they will have to wait another year, but that is exactly what’s going to happen.
Reports on Tuesday confirm that the New York Assembly will not take a vote on AB 5250 and the legislative session has ended much like it did last year with iPoker still unregulated.
Similar to 2016, Senate Bill S 3898 easily passed and there was optimism that the Assembly would push the matter through. Even key Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow had come out in support of iPoker regulation, but that proved insufficient.
The Assembly version of the bill, AB 5250, was merged with the Senate bill and sent to the Standing Committee on Code. It failed to make it out of committee.
According to reports the key sticking point was the bad actor clause that was added to the bills this year. Previous version of iPoker bills did not include the dreaded clause and some parties, including MGM Resorts International, have been lobbying diligently against allowing PokerStars or any bad actor into the state.
Now that the annual legislative session is over, parties will have to start over again in 2017. Unfortunately, this is beginning to sound a bit like the problems that California is facing.
Pennsylvania Bills May Be Too Far Apart to Pass in 2017
The good news in Pennsylvania is that both the House and Senate have passed iGaming regulation bills. Unfortunately, they are vastly different and some feel that they may be too far apart for parties to come to a consensus this year.
There are two major differences in the bills. The first is that the House added the regulation of video gaming terminals or VGTs in taverns across the state Senate lawmakers are largely against this.
The other issue, and likely the most pressing, is tax rates. Senate lawmakers want to tax online poker, slots and table games at 54% while the House wants to tax them at just 16%.
This difference is monumentally important as most feel that a 54% tax rate would effectively drive away online poker sites and many online gambling operators. Even if some type of compromise could be made on the tax rates, it is not likely to happen quickly.
PA doesn’t have the same legislative calendar as New York and they do have budget considerations. Online gambling is supposed to add $100 million to the state budget.
If they cannot come up with a compromise, lawmakers may be forced to focus on getting a budget passed without iGaming and start to look ahead to next year.
California also will have to wait until 2018 until any progress can be made on a new online poker bill.