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New York’s Online Poker Bill Picks Up 47 Co-Sponsors but Fate Still in Doubt

The latest effort to legalize online poker in New York has gained momentum over the last month, but the bill’s sponsor isn’t bullish on passage this year.

Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow (D-89) – who chairs the New York Assembly’s Committee on Racing and Wagering – introduced Assembly Bill 5250 last year. Pretlow’s bill mimics another online poker regulation package, SB-3898, which has already been passed by the state Senate.

Pretlow has assembled a coalition of 47 co-sponsors for AB-5250, and that number is expected to grow by the day.

But as he told Matthew Kredell of the Online Poker Report in an interview published on April 20, Pretlow isn’t satisfied with the support shown thus far:

“It’s growing, but not fast enough. We will get to 60, but my goal is 76.

At 76, that means there’s a majority of Democrats in favor.

I’m confident it gets done eventually, I’d just like to get it done sooner rather than later.”

Despite the reservations expressed by Pretlow, the 47 co-sponsors and counting aligns with a forecast voiced earlier in the month by Assemblyman Clyde Vanel (D-33).

Speaking with Kredell and the Online Poker Report on April 20, Vanel – who chairs the Subcommittee on Internet and New Technology – predicted that AB-5250 would garner 60-70 co-sponsors:

“Chairman Pretlow is a great champion for it, and now he has the partners to bring it through. The next few weeks will show some traction for the bill.

With enough co-sponsors, I like it to get out of committee and onto the floor.

I think we have a good shot of getting it through this year.”

Although the Democratic party holds a 66-seat supermajority in the 146-seat state Assembly, Pretlow and his partisan colleagues need 76 co-sponsors to secure AB-5250’s passage through to a full floor vote.

The state Senate has passed online poker legislation in each of the last two years, but both bills stalled out in the Assembly.

In 2017, Pretlow himself provided much of the opposition, as he openly questioned the security and safety of online gambling. But after visiting neighboring New Jersey to study the Garden State’s successfully implemented iGaming industry, Pretlow embraced online poker as a pet project.

In his most recent interview, Pretlow blamed the current divide within the Assembly on Speaker Carl Heastie (D-83):

“He’s not in favor of gambling.

It’s obvious there are a lot of people in the Assembly not in favor of gambling of any sort. I try to explain to them that this is an expansion of existing gambling, but it’s hard to do when minds are closed.”

Even so, Pretlow expressed guarded optimism that enough co-sponsors to change Heastie’s thinking could be enlisted before June:

“There’s still a whole lot of time available to do some of the things we need to do, when there’s the will to do them.

Getting leadership to see the need for these things is what my problem always has been.”