As the clock ticks down on some legislative session, online poker bills are still in play in two states -- but just barely.
Online poker in New York is officially dead for 2017 as its bill was not acted upon by the Assembly prior to the end of the legislative year.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania and Illinois both have bills in play. The Pennsylvania bill has long odds to pass while we really don’t know what to say about what’s going on in Illinois.
Briefly, we will give you our views behind what happened in PA and NY and why we are so uncertain about Illinois.
Pennsylvania - The Taxes Are Too Damn High!
While there are rumblings about the addition of Video Gaming Terminals to the House version of PA iGaming legislation, the real issue that has been derailing the bill is tax rates.
The Senate version of legislation wants to tax online poker at 54% while the House version of the bill calls for a 16% percent tax rate. If the Senate gets their way the chances of online poker coming to Pennsylvania are very slim as it will simply become unprofitable.
The only way this bill moves forward to the Governor is if both chambers can agree on a tax rate. Something in the 25-30% range would be high enough to satisfy the Senate and low enough to leave some meat on the bone for online poker companies.
New York - PokerStars (What Other Bad Actor is There?)
It appeared that New York was on the fast track to iPoker regulation this year - at least until they decided to add a bad actor clause to the current legislation. Sadly, there are opponents to allowing online poker to proceed in a completely open manner and groups such as MGM International want to prevent PokerStars from entering the state.
The funny part about this is that the opposition is lobbying against the one company that actually repaid their players without having to be bought out. Full Tilt and Absolute Poker players went for years without receiving their funds. AP and UB players are now just getting to file for remission and odds are they will get pennies on the dollar.
If this sounds a lot like California, you’re right. While not as heated a debate as what’s been occurring in the Golden State, the bad actor roadblock is still in place in New York.
Illinois - Anyone Got a Crystal Ball?
Illinois came out of nowhere at the end of May with an iGaming bill. The Senate passed S 1531 and the bill could regulate online poker, iGaming and Daily Fantasy Sports. However, it came so suddenly that we don’t really have an idea of whether there’s any support in the Illinois House.
The bill is presently among those being considered during a special session called by Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state is working on a state budget. Online poker and gambling could generate needed tax revenue, but it’s uncertain how open they are to expand gambling at this time.
Any predictions on what’s going to happen in Illinois would be pure speculation at this point. If anything, the bill has a better chance of passing than anything in California.