Potential regulation for online poker in New York received another boost recently after Assemblyman J Gary Pretlow (D-Mt. Vernon) signaled he’s ready to move the issue along.
On February 7, 2017, Pretlow submitted A05250 in a bid to redefine poker as a game of skill and, therefore, allow it to bypass the state’s current law banning online games of chance.
“Authorized game means Omaha Hold’em and Texas Hold’em poker, as well as any other poker game that the commission determines is the material equivalent of either of those, whether in a cash game or tournament,” reads A05250.
Despite previously having some issues with poker, Pretlow explained in an interview with FiOS1’s Andrew Whitman that he’s now ready to “move it along”.
During the exchange, Pretlow admitted his main concern was that online poker offered a “fair game” and that he’d heard stories about instances of cheating in Europe.
With this in mind, he said he wants to make sure that if New York residents are going to play online poker that it’s the “fairest it could possibly be.” To help broaden his perspective on this issue, he did some research and visited New Jersey to see how things are handled there.
Reviewing the geolocation technology online poker rooms in the state use, Pretlow claimed he is “satisfied” that it works and, moreover, he’s happy there are ways to stop players colluding.
With cheating seemingly a much smaller issue than he’d previously assumed, Pretlow changed his mind about the game.
When asked about the skill vs. luck debate that had previously prevented some form of regulation, Pretlow said that his stance is very much the same as it was when he was reviewing Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS): “what I have to say to get it done is what we have to say.”
In his mind, poker is a popular game that people enjoy playing and whether or not they choose to learn the game and play in a skillful way is up to them. For Pretlow, players can choose to rely on chance if they wish, but he acknowledges that there are skillful elements to the game.
What it comes down to for the Assemblyman is whether or not games are on the “up and up” so that everyone has an equal chance of winning regardless of how they choose to play.
Going forward, Pretlow reiterated points from his bill that there would be ten licenses available, so that each casino and racino in the state could be able to partner with an online poker operator.
Additionally, he said revenue from online poker would “more than likely” be directed towards public schools as it currently is from racinos and DFS.
As the first half of the interview draws to a close, host Whitman asked the million dollar question: is there enough support to pass the bill. In response, Pretlow said he has “high standards” and when he signs off on something, his colleagues know “it’s a good deal” and won’t question it.
With this in mind, he doesn’t foresee “much opposition” to his proposals, despite some noted opponents in the system.
Overall, the interview should come as a welcome break for online poker fans in New York. Although there would be a number of hurdles still to clear if Pretlow’s bill does win support in the Assembly, it’s clear the industry now has a powerful ally on its side.