New York Lawmakers Mull Online, Live Poker

A bill in the New York legislature would legalize online poker by classifying it a game of skill, while a separate bill would allow liquor-licensed establishments to host recreational poker games.

New York Lawmakers Mull Online, Live Poker

Lawmakers in New York state are once again considering a bill to legalize online poker. Assembly bill 1380, introduced by Democratic Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow, would allow that “certain interactive poker games be considered games of skill rather than games of luck,” which would clear the way for online poker sites in New York.

The bill specifically mentions Texas Hold ’em and Omaha as games to be considered skill. “These games are considered to be complex forms of poker which involve player strategy and decision-making and which pit the skill levels of the players against each other,” says the bill. “As games of skill, these forms of poker do not fall under the definition of gambling as prohibited by the penal law.”

The bill goes on to note that poker is a form of entertainment. “The internet has become an integral part of society, and internet poker a major form of entertainment for many consumers,” the bill states. “Any interactive gaming enforcement and regulatory structure must begin from the bedrock premise that participation in a lawful and licensed gaming industry is a privilege and not a right, and that regulatory oversight is intended to safeguard the integrity of the games and participants and to ensure accountability and the public trust.”

Meanwhile, Assemblyman David Weprin introduced Assembly Bill 1580, which would allow anyone holding a license to sell alcohol on premises to host customers in “certain recreational contests.” The bill specifically mentions poker as one of those games. The legislation would expand live poker beyond land-based casinos, where it has been legal since 2013.