As 2017 kicks in, poker continues to gain traction in statehouses across America. S. 3898, which would authorize licensing and regulation of poker websites in New York State, passed unanimously out of the New York Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee. Bill sponsor Senator John Bonacic is chairman of that committee. S. 3898 now moves on to the Senate Finance Committee. PPA expects it to pass the Finance Committee, as it did last year, and to move to the full Senate for a vote.
S. 3898 and A. 5250, its companion bill in the New York Assembly, are poker-only. Both bills would permit up to eleven online poker licenses, each carrying a one-time $10 million fee for licenses good for ten years. The state would also take 15 percent of sites’ gross gaming revenues in taxes. Sites would be able to apply the licensing fee toward future taxes for a period of up to five years. Interstate gaming agreements, like the agreement currently in place between Delaware and Nevada, would be allowed under both bills.
Due in large part to tremendous activism from the poker community (calling, tweeting, emailing, etc.), an online poker licensing bill passed the full Senate last year 53-5, but time ran out before the Assembly could act.
In Pennsylvania, Reps. George Dunbar (R), Rosita Youngblood (D), Jay Costa (D) and five others introduced HB 392, which would license and regulate online poker, other forms of online gaming, and daily fantasy sports in their state. PPA expects a hearing this month, and we expect PPA to be invited to testify on behalf of the poker community on why the Keystone State needs to move forward on this important legislation.
HB 392 calls for an $8 million application fee and a $250,000 annual renewal fee for an interactive gaming license, and a $2 million application fee and a $100,000 annual renewal fee for interactive gaming operators. The proposed tax rate for online gaming operators is 14 percent of gross gaming revenue, with an additional two percent tax to go to host communities.
While similar legislation in Pennsylvania may not have passed into law last year, the state did take credit for the revenue and is already spending the money. This is good for us, as the legislature will have to find alternate revenue sources to make up the shortfall should they fail to pass online poker this time.
In Michigan, we anticipate legislation that would license and regulate poker websites to be introduced in the near future. I look forward to sharing details as they become available. Last year, the Michigan Senate Regulatory Reform Committee approved an online poker bill, but further action was pushed into this year.
Hawaii has a poker bill, too. S.B. 677, introduced by State Senator Will Espero, would establish “the Hawaii internet lottery and gaming corporation for the purpose of conducting internet gambling in Hawaii.” The minimum age for online play in the state would be 19.
And, California Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer has introduced the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act (AB 1677), which would license and regulate online poker in the Golden State. Unfortunately, disunity among stakeholders that has doomed past legislation has not been resolved. PPA calls on all stakeholders to come to consensus to, at long last, move legislation forward in California.
Let’s make and like pro-poker tweets in reply to several lawmakers, telling them to oppose proposed federal legislation that would ban online poker throughout America. Poker public enemy #1 Sheldon Adelson reportedly donated nearly $80 million during the 2016 election cycle. He also spends hundreds of thousands of dollars monthly lobbying Congress to strip you of your right to play poker in your own home on your own computer, so these lawmakers really need to hear from everyone.
Poker Opponent Sheldon Adelson Dines with President Trump
The Washington Post reports that billionaire megadonor Sheldon Adelson recently met with President Donald Trump for dinner. While highlighting the influence big money donors have on the American political system, this also serves to remind all of us that the poker community cannot ever be complacent in the fight for our game. We have to win 100 percent of the time. Adelson has to win just once. Let’s continue to ensure he never sees that victory.
Webcast: Poker Advocacy with Rich Muny
On a recent webcast, Washington State poker activist Curt Woodard and I discussed Curt's activism in helping to set up an online poker legislative workshop held by a Washington State Senate Committee, where PPA Executive Director John Pappas explained why the state should move forward with licensing and regulation of online poker. Following John’s testimony, Curt and other Washington poker players and activists spoke in support of our game, while a tribal spokesperson spoke in opposition.
Poker Advocacy with Rich Muny airs live Tuesdays at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT on OnTilt Radio. Each show features great guests and the best discussion on poker legislation. Please be sure to tune in every Tuesday evening at www.ontiltradio.com.
Help Fund the Fight
A critical factor to winning the poker fight is through your financial support. We may have a billionaire fighting us, but the numbers are on our side. If you can make even a small contribution to PPA, you can help ensure our ability as a community to continue taking the fight to Adelson and his minions on Capitol Hill.
While Sheldon Adelson continues to follow through with his pledge to “spend whatever it takes” in his effort to ban online poker, our organized fight back will ensure lawmakers know where the American people truly are on this issue.
Thanks to the terrific generosity of Two Plus Two Publishing, PPA is able to provide donors with a downloadable PPA edition of the acclaimed book, Fundamentals of Poker, authored by Mason Malmuth and Lynne Loomis. For your copy, simply email PPA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether you are a novice poker player looking to learn a new poker game or a seasoned veteran looking to brush up on your fundamentals, this book is a terrific resource for any poker player. I hope you enjoy this e-book, either for yourself or as a superb primer for a friend or loved one new to the game.