NY State Senate Considers Future Discussions over Legalizing Online Poker to Resolve Budget Deficit

The New York State Senate published a preliminary budgetary statement this week, in which the legislators indicated their willingness to discuss the possibility of legalizing online poker, as a means to manage the state’s $1.3 billion budget deficit. This is in view of Governor Cuomo’s proposal to raise NY’s revenues by allowing at least seven casinos to run Internet-based poker in New York. However, State Senators Dean Skelos (Republican) and Jeff Klein (Democrat) made it clear that the possible discussions are minor to the budgetary issues and would focus only on online gambling activities regarded as games of skills, such as poker. The basis for the latter is a recent court ruling issued by Judge Jack Weinstein of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, who cited that unlike other casino games, poker is predominantly a game of skills and not of chance.

This piece of news however, is not indicative that Judge Weinstein’s decision paves the way for the legalization of poker, whether as a land-based or Internet-based gambling activity in New York and throughout the U.S. After all, the NY Eastern District Court judge based his ruling on the information provided by the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), due to the Illegal Gambling Business Act’s (IGBA) vague definition of whether illegal gambling includes poker, which is a traditional American past time.

In Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey, the motivation for legalizing online gambling for both residents and in-state casinos is likewise for economic reasons. Still, the conditions for each of the three state’s legalization approval relied mainly, on the existence of statutory regulations that clearly define the parameters on which online casino offerings will operate.

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