Friday, September 11, 2015

Keeping Up With New York - Tioga Downs and Online Poker

It has been a busy week for New York when it comes to gambling issues: the continuing saga of Tioga Downs and it's quest  for a full scale casino license in the Southern Tier, and a hearing on State Senator John Bonacic's push for online poker throughout the state.

Tioga Downs - A hearing was held this past Thursday, September 10, 2015 on the beefed up proposal to turn the Tioga Downs racino into a full scale casino. The original proposal was rejected and owner Jeffrey Gural, a major contributor to Governor Cuomo's last campaign and a purported friend, wasn't going to take that lying down. After repeated protests from government entities throughout the Southern Tier stressing the fact that this area is in serious need of economic assistance, the State Gaming Facility Location Board relented and allowed Tioga Downs to submit a revised proposal. The Board chairman, Kevin Law, made it clear before the hearing that if the new proposal was merely "lipstick" on an otherwise bland and unspectacular original plan it wasn't going to fly. After the hearing Law is quoted in the Journal News saying, "I think we've seen with their submittal and the presentation today is that it's certainly more than just lipstick, and there were some significant changes." Read Journal News Article Here

Tioga Downs

The public will get a chance to comment on the new plan, pro and con, at an open hearing on September 18th at SUNY Broome's Baldwin Gym. Attendees can expect to hear questions about Gural's association with the Governor as well as his relationship to his other major holding, the Meadowlands. Considering that if gambling is brought to the Meadowlands at any time in the near future every existing gambling establishment in New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey will feel the pinch, these are questions that need to be asked. Up to now Gural's response to Meadowlands concerns has been pretty non-commital.

Online Poker in New York - Up to now there has not been a strong push for online poker or online gambling in New York. Previous bills sponsored by State Senator John Bonacic and NYS Assemblyman Gary Pretlow have received little support and have not raised the eyebrows of the governor one way or the other. With that in mind the Senate hearing held on Wednesday, September 9, 2015 is a major step forward.

Most of the speakers, actually all of the invited speakers, were proponents of online poker coming to New York. Representatives from MGM, the Borgata in NJ, and Caesars touted the benefits and safety of online gambling. Most stressed how online operations enhance rather than detract from brick and mortar operations, saying that the best people to run online enterprises are those who are already in the casino business. There was also a big push in the direction of boosting the existing racing establishments in New York, racinos included, by the addition of online poker/gambling components.

Other speakers included John Pappas  from the Poker Players Alliance. The PPA is strongly supporting efforts for online poker in any and all states where it is proposed having greatly decreased their efforts on the federal level given the torpor and ennui of our federal legislators on this topic. Read a Q and A with John Pappas by this blogger from October 2012 on the State of Online Poker

John's Recent Remarks at the Hearing   

The PPA's Press Release on the NY Hearing

It's very hard to say when or if any of this will happen or even get to the Governor's desk. Suffice it to say that Many New Yorkers are watching this debate closely. And, there are detractors If You Are Interested! I am not one of them. The sooner we have the ability to play legal online poker in NY, the better.

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