Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow is an interesting figure in the poker community. He’s supported several bills so far, although he hasn’t exactly built a strong coalition around the idea of legalizing poker in New York. Now, a new bill might change this.
Who’s Pretlow and What Has He Done?
To understand the poker industry and the fight for legalizing this activity in New York, we will first have to walk you through what happened in the past two years. In a word, this includes several bills and a handful of key personalities who vowed to change the industry for the better.
Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow has been one of the friends of poker in New York. Supporting every bill that has been floated in the past two years, he has been one of the main political figures to openly advocate the adoption of poker in the Empire State.
So far, his efforts haven’t led to much in the way of definitive progress, but Mr. Pretlow has been relentless in endorsing any bill that has been floated in the state. He threw his support behind State Senator John Bonacic’s proposed Senate Bill 7900.
The SB was an ambitious plan to see the state’s poker industry legalized. However, Mr. Bonacic hardly had time to see his design realized, with the Senator now having retired. Still, SB 7900 is an option, but a few other ideas have come along the way.
Senator Joseph Addabbo – A Friend of Poker
Mr. Pretlow never intended to support just one bill. Quite the contrary, in fact, with the Assemblyman looking into the best possible to wake up the dormant legal community, at least so far as poker is concerned, in New York.
On January 5, 2019, Senator Joseph Addabbo introduced SB 18 which was the opening salvo. Sen. Addabbo’s bill is comprehensive and thorough, leaving no stone unturned. Yet, it’s not really progressing.
On a technical level, SB 18 proposes a standard licensing worth $10 million for operators to be allowed to launch their offers. Mr. Addabbo’s bill suggests up to 11 licenses to be available with a fair tax of 15%.
Taxes and the Budget Deficits
Poker has been long cited as a great palliative of the financial variety. Kentucky and Michigan (which got vetoed by the governor) thought about legalizing the industry to patch up some expenditures. In Switzerland, for example, the pension fund of the country is funded by the gambling industry up to an important extent.
Similarly, last month New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that he wasn’t opposed to the idea of legalizing the segment so long as it helps fill the budget deficit in the state estimated at ca $170 million.
Mr. Pretlow in Control
And so, Assemblyman Pretlow has long been around the making of poker all around the Empire State. With Mr. Bonacic now out and Mr. Addabbo’s bill, Pretlow has decided to take matters into his own hands.
This is where his newly-proposed A04924 isn’t designed to steal the thunder from Mr. Addabbo’s bill. Rather, it’s another determined attempt by the Assemblyman to see the industry regulated. It’s true that Mr. Pretlow hasn’t been very active when it comes to garnering support from fellow Assemblymen.
However, chances are that this will be changing with his own bill now having skin in the game. Mr. Pretlow’s bill is quite straightforward in its intention and design:
Allows certain interactive poker games be considered games of skill rather than games of luck; includes definitions, authorization, required safeguards and minimum standards, the scope of licensing review and state tax implications; makes corresponding penal law amendments.
If you juxtapose and read SB 18 and A04924, you will certainly spot the similarities. They are almost identical, with both bills allowing up to 11 licenses for starters and a $10 million entry fee for any operator. The new bill also runs the same tax of 15% and each license is extended for a period of 10 years.
Mr. Pretlow’s bill is largely a rehash of the efforts outlined by Mr. Addabbo. The Empire State doesn’t seem like legalizing the industry immediately, particularly among a string of unfortunate events starting with the shift in power in the Senate as well as the government shutdown which has set back the budget of many states. The DoJ decision to reverse a previous interpretation of the Wire Act wasn’t exactly helpful.
What Can Pretlow Hope for in the Short Term?
Launching a fairly unchanged bill shortly after Addabbo’s doesn’t seem to be a well-coordinated move, but it’s most certainly worth paying attention. Some of Mr. Pretlow’s actions indicate that he might have been holding back and not exactly trying to endorse other bills.
If this is true, that means that we’re about to see a more concentrated push for the legalization of the poker industry. Far more likely it is to expect any legalization to not come until 2020.