New York Senator Joseph Addabbo has refined his legislative agenda to exclusively target online poker with his new bill, SB9226, leaving behind a more expansive online gaming proposal that failed to secure broad support last year.

SB9226: A Focused Approach to Online Poker Legislation

The bill, filed with the Senate Gaming, Wagering, and Racing Committee, specifically aims to establish a framework for online poker, which Senator Addabbo believes has significant potential to generate revenue without the complexities of a full iGaming rollout. This decision follows the unsuccessful attempt with SB8185 in 2024, which included a broader array of online gaming options and proposed a hefty 30% tax rate aimed at alleviating the state’s budget deficit.

SB9226 narrows down the scope to online poker only, offering up to ten licenses at a cost of $10 million each, with a reduced tax rate of 15%. This leaner approach is designed to foster easier passage through legislative processes while tapping into the popularity of poker.

The Popularity of Poker as a Legislative Catalyst

Senator Addabbo expressed confidence in the potential of online poker, citing its popularity and the success of other online betting initiatives in New York. He emphasized the timely nature of this initiative, stating, “The timing for iGaming is perfect… but poker is very popular, so why miss out on that segment?” This statement underscores his belief that focusing on poker could serve as a critical entry point for broader online gaming legislation in the future.

Legislative and Political Roadblocks

However, the bill’s future is uncertain. It parallels Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow’s efforts, which have previously faced significant challenges in the Assembly. The lack of online gaming revenue projections in the state’s 2024 budget and Governor Kathy Hochul’s non-committal stance during the budget announcement further complicates the bill’s trajectory.

Industry Perspective on Online Poker Legislation

DraftKings CEO Jason Robins has spoken about the evolving landscape of the online casino industry, particularly after the financial impacts of COVID-19. He suggests a pressing need for new tax revenue sources, indicating that initiatives like online poker could play a crucial role in the state’s economic recovery.

The Uncertain Road Ahead

As SB9226 moves through the legislative process, its success will depend on the ability to navigate the complex interplay of interests and challenges within New York’s political framework. The focused nature of the bill may ease some of these difficulties, but as with all legislative efforts, the outcome is far from guaranteed.

In conclusion, Senator Addabbo’s pivot to a poker-centric legislative strategy reflects a calculated attempt to overcome previous obstacles while setting the stage for potential future expansions in online gaming. Whether this approach will result in legislative success remains to be seen as the bill progresses through the corridors of New York’s state government.

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