New York and Kentucky Fail to Pass Online Poker Bills
Next year, New York said. We should be able to do it next year. New York lawmakers have been saying that for seven years. Kentucky has been pushing state-regulated online poker since 2018.
Neither state could get it done this year. So…next year?
New York: No Again
This year, as in so many past years, New York lawmakers introduced legislation to legalize and regulate online poker at the state level. They’ve done it with sports betting and lotteries. Somehow, though, lotteries are legal and taxed by the state, and online poker – a game of skill – is not.
But I digress.
New York State Senator Joe Addabbo introduced S.8412 on February 24, 2022. As in years past, the bill called for the legalization of interactive gaming in the state. It differed from the past year’s bills, however, in that it didn’t call for the designation of online poker as a game of skill or even mention online poker at all. The official title of the bill read: “An act to amend the racing, pari-mutuel wagering and breeding law, in relation to authorizing interactive gaming.”
On March 7, New York Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow introduced his own version. A.9436 noted that it was the House version of S.8412.
Both bills went directly to their respective Racing and Wagering Committees. And they stayed there until they died in April.
Addabbo spoke to Online Poker Report after laying the bill to rest. He said that he expects an igaming bill to pass in 2023. He said that he is encouraged by Michigan signing on to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement. This year, though, he said that the push for igaming started too late in 2022. It did help hone the legislation, though, and set a foundation for next year.
This year's online casino and poker legislation died as quickly as it was born in New York. Don't write off the effort, though. Sen. Joseph Addabbo spoke with Online Poker Report, and described it as laying the foundation for a renewed push in 2023.https://t.co/5iOzOeMByO
— Bonus.com (@BonusUpdate) April 12, 2022
Kentucky: Hope Lived for a While
This year’s online poker push started in the State Senate and House at the same time. Longtime online poker supporter State Representative Adam Koenig kicked it off with HB.606, the primary bill to change current laws in a way that would legalize online poker, fantasy contests, and sports wagering. Numerous other bills picked up the loose ends and covered all bases. On the other side of the aisle, Senator David Yates introduced SB.213, the companion bill to HB.606.
Things looked good. Governor Andy Beshear was still a primary supporter, as he had been since he actually proposed the idea in 2018. The bills still stand as the most popular solution for the Kentucky pension deficit problem. Both bills picked up cosponsors in the first months of 2022. The bills were borne of a bipartisan effort.
After the bills’ introductions in late February, both went to their respective Committees on Committees and then on to Licensing and Occupations Committees. The Senate bill then stalled while Koenig worked on the House version.
In mid-March, HB.606 received a favorable report and moved on to a second reading and to the Rules Committee. Two amendments attached themselves to the bill, though only one passed. That was Amendment 1 to limit customer losses for the proposed gaming to $1K per 24-hour period. There was an exemption for “highly experienced players of fantasy contests,” but not poker or sports betting. Who determines that?
But I digress.
The third reading put HB.606 in front of the House for a third reading on March 18, and it passed with Amendment 1. The vote was 58 in favor to only 30 opposed. Success!
Kentucky: No Again
Three days later, Koenig took that bill on over to the Senate, where it went to the Licensing & Occupations Committee. It had a first reading and a second, but it did not proceed to the Senate floor. The Economic Development, Tourism, & Labor Committee then took charge of it on April 13 and proposed 17 new amendments. The amendments ranged from prohibiting wagering on individual sports to increasing sports wagering licensing and renewal fees to $1M each.
Two days later, the bill died.
Kentucky Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said that many supporters of the bill changed their votes in the past week, coincidentally after 17 amendments clung to the bill. Thayer said he did everything he could to move the bill forward and to further readings and meetings.
Thayer said that he anticipates that the 2022 election will put more supporters in the legislature, making it more likely to pass next year. “I think we’ll have more votes for sports betting next year,” he said. “I really do. … I’m pretty energized.” He was referring to the work Koenig did in the House to pass it over to the Senate. “Advocates should be optimistic,” he added. “I think the advocates should be optimistic. Sports betting got further in the Kentucky General Assembly than ever. It’s always going to be very difficult because of the religious concerns in rural areas, especially. We just have to keep trying.”
Again folks, we have momentum for sports betting in kentucky. Be positive, be productive, be respectful and vote! That is how we will make this change! END.
— Adam Koenig (@repkoenig) April 15, 2022
Just postponing the inevitable. https://t.co/q6Pel8hKaf
— Adam Koenig (@repkoenig) April 16, 2022