Legal Rundown: PokerStars Still Coming to NJ – NY Files Online Poker Bill and Urges Congress to Block RAWA

Written By James Guill on May 18, 2015
California news is slow currently, but NY and NJ both have online poker legalities that they are talking about.

While there has been little progress in the last week in California, there has been some major news from New York and New Jersey. PokerStars is still on pace to launch in the Fall of this year according to Amaya, Inc CEO David Baazov.

Meanwhile, New York has submitted their latest attempt to legalize online poker. The new bill is similar to last year’s bill but lacking the dreaded “bad actor” clause. Finally, a group of NY State Senators are urging New York congressional officials to block RAWA.

PokerStars Still on Pace for Q3 Approval

PokerStars is still on pace to launch in New Jersey sometime this fall, at least that’s what Amaya CEO David Baazov recently told investors. On Thursday, Amaya, Inc. held their Q1 2015 earnings call and one of the topics of discussion was PokerStars’ pending acceptance and launch in New Jersey.

Baazov reiterated during the call that the company was still anticipating a Q3 launch of PokerStars in New Jersey later this year. This is in line with what the company revealed at the end of March during their Q4 2014 earnings call.

Later in the call, Baazov offered commentary regarding the company’s chances in California. Unlike New Jersey, they are taking a more cautious view regarding California. While he said that the company was pleased with the efforts underway and “excited about the momentum we see,” he failed to give any estimates on whether online poker would be legalized anytime soon.

New York Finally Files Online Poker Bill

Back in January, a new online poker bill was promised in the Empire State but zero progress has been reported since. That changed on Friday when it was revealed that State Senator John Bonacic submitted S 5302 in the New York Senate. This is the state’s second attempt to legalize online poker.

The new bill is almost identical to last year’s bill with one massive exception. This time around, the bill lacks a bad actor clause. With the changing landscape of the iGaming industry, the dropping of the clause seems appropriate and likely necessary should New York ever have any chance of passing a bill.

Other key items on the bill remain the same. There will only be 10 licenses up for grabs with each licensee having to pay $10 million each for a 10-year license. Afterwards, providers will be taxed 15% of GGR.

It is unlikely that we will see any significant movement on this bill because the end of the legislative session is just a month away. Assemblyman Gary Pretlow claimed back in January that hearings were possible on a new bill, but it is hard to see that even happening with so little time remaining in the session.

New York Senators Urge Congress to Block RAWA

According to the NY Daily News, a group of NY State Senators are urging congressional officials to block RAWA. The New York state Senate Independent Democratic Conference recently sent a letter to the New York congressional delegation asking them to block the Restoration of America’s Wire Act. The five Senators attached to the bill are Tony Avella (D-Queens), Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), David Carlucci (D-Rockand County), Jeffrey Klein (D-Bronx) and David Valesky (D-Syracuse).

According to the letter, the Senators believe that the legislation would trample on state rights and prohibit the state from offering online lottery games. The state currently offers online Lotto, Mega Millions and Cash for Life. Horse-racing fans can also wager online.

The Senators further argued that RAWA would prevent the Empire State from joining other states in spreading online poker, a move that could cost the state new jobs and tax revenue. They believe that RAWA, “usurps New York’s ability to determine for itself what forms of gambling are authorized within the state, a right which New York and every other state has historically exercised.”

Ultimately, the group doesn’t specifically outline a position for or against online gambling but rather that they believe that the choice should be left to states and not the federal government.

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James Guill

Originally a semi-professional player, James transitioned to the media side in 2008. Since then he has made a name for himself reporting for some of the top names in the industry. When not covering the poker world, James travels around central Virginia hunting for antique treasure.

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