Essential NY Lawmaker:’I Can Give Up Online Poker For Sports Betting’

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New York Assemblyman Gary Pretlow told Online Poker Report that he would give up his three-year pursuit of internet poker legislation if it meant New York could get sports gambling done.

This is not an either-or situation; Pretlow was just making a point regarding where online poker stands in comparison to sports gambling among his priorities entering 2019.

“I’d give up online poker for sports gambling,” Pretlow said. “If I had to make a choice, I’d choose this over online poker simply because the revenue flow is so much better doing this than online poker.”

A complicated history with online poker

As chair of the Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee, Pretlow has been introducing an internet poker bill since 2016. One might say he’s online poker’s champion in the New York Assembly, though it hasn’t always seemed that way.

The New York Senate passed online poker laws in 2016 and 2017, with Pretlow’s Senate counterpart, the retiring John Bonacic, passing him the ball to put through the hoop.

In 2016, Pretlow was unable to convince his colleagues that online poker was a game of skill because he wasn’t yet convinced himself. The next year, he had concerns over geolocation and anti-cheating technology.

From the end of 2017, Pretlow seemed ready to fully commit to pushing for internet poker. This season, with the aid of Assemblyman Clyde Vanel, he made a major push to get 51 Assembly members (47 Democrats, 4 Republicans) signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.

At the close of the session in June, in a year that the Senate didn’t even pass its internet poker bill, Pretlow claimed that online poker was just eight votes from passing from the Assembly.

The cash is on sports

Apparently, all it would have taken to acquire online poker passed was a much better showing in neighboring New Jersey, where sports gambling revenue has grown fast.

“Online poker, I think that the revenue for the country is projected at $20-25 million, while this is $150 million minimum,” Pretlow said. “I have a much better argument for sports gambling.”

Sports betting can’t carry online poker

Early this season, there was thought to joining online poker with the sports gambling bill, with the US Supreme Court decision online sports gambling giving both the momentum to get through. Now, the thought is that sports gambling is too important to foul up with online poker.

“I’m going to introduce an internet poker bill, but I have to prioritize things and do one at a time,” Pretlow said. “I’m not going to tie them together.”

Pretlow contended that sports gambling”probably could help” online poker gain some momentum. It couldn’t hurt. But it doesn’t seem like a piggyback situation next year. The New York legislature is prioritizing sports betting, and online poker won’t be along for the ride.

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