The Atlantic City online gambling industry may be more influential than anyone imagined. New York City owns such memorable nicknames as The Big Apple, The City That Never Sleeps and The City of Dreams. And the state itself is known as the Empire State, even referred to by none other than United States founding father George Washington with that powerful sobriquet. But New York as the Copycat State? Most New Yorkers are proud of their image as unique self-starters and successful individuals that do things their own way. But if a new piece of legislation passes, it appears New York online gambling will simply copy and paste the successful model employed by its neighbor just across the bridge.
While it is much too early to declare a winner in the growing Internet gambling industry in the United States, it is also very easy to pronounce a leader. At this point, New Jersey online gambling has easily bested and continues to trump Delaware and Nevada in player pool size, traffic and online gambling revenue. And that should probably be the case, considering NJ claims close to 9 million residents, more than double the combination of its only two competitors on the US Internet gambling landscape. But there are more than 8.3 million US citizens in Gotham City alone, and a full 20 million located throughout New York. So after watching its next-door neighbor establish itself as the premier player in the burgeoning US Internet gambling industry, it is no wonder that certain New York legislators want to get involved.
One such lawmaker is Republican Senator John Bonacic. He proposes to legalize, license and tax online gambling in the form of poker games. The legislation calls for New York to license 10 separate operators to deliver a virtual poker presence to state residents and visitors. Those cyber poker parlors would pay 15% of their gross revenues and taxes, after first cutting a check for a $10 million licensing fee. Following Nevada’s lead, the Bonacic proposal looks to offer just Internet poker, specifically the popular Texas Hold ‘Em.
Other poker variations would also be allowed, and any state licensed operators would be tasked with ensuring that no one under the age of 21 be allowed to play. Bonacic does not expect the bill to pass this year, but as the chairman for the state’s Senate Committee on Racing, Wagering and Gaming, he said he wants to begin to create a foundation which will support New York’s entry in 2015 into the Internet gambling industry in the United States. Stating that New York needs to “start a discussion” concerning what he sees as a growing and inevitable industry, Bonacic said that mirroring the successful New Jersey Internet gambling product just makes a lot of sense.
The demographics for NY and the Garden State are identical in a lot of ways. And it is just a hop, skip and a jump for New York City residents to physically locate themselves inside New Jersey boundaries, allowing them to access legal online poker and casino gambling currently. Nearby Pennsylvania is one of 10 states looking to join the US online gambling industry, so the quicker New York could get involved, the better for them. Owning more than 6% of the US population, New York would immediately position itself as the state with the largest player pool, very attractive for interstate compacts. And at least one casino bigwig agrees with Bonacic’s efforts. MGM Resorts International President Bill Hornbuckle was asked what he thought about the proposed New York online gambling legislation, and he said, “New York would be an extraordinary market for this type of entertainment.”