Online Sports Bill More Urgent than Online Poker in New York

A bill to legalize online sports betting has pushed past regulated online poker in New York. The bill's sponsor is taking a more urgent approach to the new gambling bill. Senator John Bonacic says he wants to “hit the ground running” if and when states are granted the authority to regulate sports betting.

For years Bonacic has been a dedicated champion for online poker legislation in New York. While online poker remains on the table, Bonacic may have better odds of convincing the state Assembly to approve sports betting.

Bonacic's online poker bill has made it out of the Senate repeatedly over the past two years only to stall out in the Assembly. The current version of the bill cleared the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming, and Wagering in January by a nearly unanimous vote. Bonacic's counterpart in the Assembly, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, committed to a renewed online poker push this summer.

Online sports betting, however, could follow a much more direct path. If Bonacic can convince his fellow lawmakers that time is of the essence if New York is to compete with New Jersey, then sports betting could win the online gambling race. New Jersey regulators have already established a process for licensing sports books in anticipation of a legal launch.

Bonacic's sports betting bill calls for an 8.5 percent tax on the industry and bans betting on high school sporting events. It includes a wide range of sports bets such as single-game bets, over-under bets, in-game wagering, and in-play bets.

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