Race Could Be On For Pennsylvania, New York To Launch Online Poker First

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After both Pennsylvania and New York have taken their time in recent years considering the legalization of online poker, it’s possible there will now be a sprint to the finish for the two states. What’s going on in Pennsylvania online poker? The conversation on online poker in Pennsylvania’s legislature appears to be on hiatus, although an online gambling bill is also not entirely off the table in the state’s ongoing budget battle. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. John Payne, has indicated previously that the gambling expansion bill that includes regulation and legalization of online casinos and poker would be taken up in the spring. He also predicted that it would be passed in July. There has been optimistic talk from Payne on online gambling in the past, but it does appear like it will get serious consideration in 2016. Part of the reason it will get more momentum? Its neighbor to the north is looking into online poker, too. What’s going on in New York online poker? New York held an informational hearing about online poker in September, but ever since, the topic has been off the table in the Empire State. That all changed in recent weeks, as Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow, head of the Assembly Committee on Racing and Wagering, introduced a bill that would legalize and regulate online poker in the state. Then, last week, a Senate version of the online poker bill made it onto the agenda of a committee hearing set for Feb. 2. While New York has been considering online gaming regulation for several years, legislation has never gotten very far. How serious this effort is remains to be seen, but the quick turn of events suggest that the online poker will get serious consideration in 2016. Who gets online gambling passed first? First off, it wouldn’t be a surprise if neither state passed online gambling legislation. (It’s important to note that Pennsylvania’s bill encompasses all online gaming, while New York is for poker only.) At the same time, as both states are considering regulation, there is value in being first to pass a bill, so they have a leg up on offering it in their respective state. There’s even a possibility that both states could see the value in passing legislation and entering into an interstate online poker compact that already includes Nevada and Delaware, and that would welcome New Jersey, should it choose to join. Pennsylvania has done far more public legwork on the online gambling question, and legislation has already seen meaningful progress, making it out of committee. Right now, Pennsylvania would have to get the edge for crossing the finish line first. Of course, the recent New York effort came nearly out of nowhere. If work has been done behind the scenes by the bills’ sponsors, then all bets are off, and online poker could get passed quickly in New York. We’ll get a better sense of just how serious New York is about online poker this week.

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