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Three States Consider iGaming

New York, Mississippi and Pennsylvania are all doing studies

Three States Consider iGaming

New York could legalize online poker under a bill introduced to the state legislature.

The bill would allow New York to license and tax internet poker games from up to 10 different providers under a proposal from Republican state Senator John Bonacic.

But Bonacic, who chairs the Senate Committee on Racing, Wagering and Gaming, said he doesn’t expect the bill to pass this year.

Bonacic said he wants to see the impact of four privately owned casinos authorized by voters on the state before moving to legalize online gambling. Still, New York needs to begin considering how to effectively regulate online gambling, he said.

“I don’t intend to push (the bill) this year,” Bonacic told the Associated Press. “But we need to start a discussion.”

Bonacic said the legislation is needed to protect New York consumers from unlicensed offshore online gambling sites as well as to prevent underage gambling and combat problem gambling.

Operators would pay $10 million licensing fees and taxes equal to 15 percent of their gross revenues under the bill. The proposal only allows online poker and not other forms of online gambling such as casino games and slots.

A task force to study the possibility of internet gaming has been designated by the Mississippi House Gaming Committee. Chairman Richard Bennett said he would like a neutral study for sports betting and online gaming. Mississippi has traditionally shied away from internet gaming in the past. Legislation has been introduced two separate times. The first was from Rep. Bobby Moak in 2012. The bill died. Moak attempted another bill this year, which also died.  

Heading up the task force is Mississippi Gaming Commission Executive Director Allen Godfrey. He said the group will study the three states which allow online gaming—New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada. The task force will also look at problem and underage gaming. Godfrey said it is not the group’s responsibility to make recommendations for new legislation regarding online gaming. The group is simply gathering data for the gaming commission.

In Pennsylvania, proponents of legalizing online gambling got some bad news recently as several key GOP state leaders—including Governor Tom Corbett—said there isn’t much interest in Harrisburg to move on the idea.

Pennsylvania House spokesman Stephen Miskin said, “I’m not sure there’s a whole lot of support in our caucus right now for it.”

Republican Governor Tom Corbett is pushing for an expansion of gambling in the state, but that move is focused on introducing small games of chance at taverns and bars. Still, the state did authorize a study to determine the potential impact of online gambling and online poker would have on the state.

But Jay Pagni, a spokesman for the governor, told reporters that Corbett isn’t likely to push for online gambling.

The findings of the Pennsylvania study are due to be introduced next month.

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