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Did Bad Actor Clause Kill New York Online Poker?

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Did Bad Actor Clause Kill New York Online Poker?

The bill to legalize online poker in New York failed to gain approval once again this year. Much like SB 3898 introduced by Senator John Bonacic last year, the bill died in the Assembly. Some speculate it was the late addition of a bad actor clause with no time left to debate that sealed the bill’s fate.

According to Legal Poker Sites, Assemblymembers were torn on the term, unable to agree on how it should be written or if it should even be included at all. The clause was reportedly added to block PokerStars from entering the New York online poker market at launch.

Lawmakers inserted the bad actor language for two reasons. First, because PokerStars violated federal gambling laws in 2006 by continuing to allow US players after the passage of UIGEA. Second, allowing such a dominant brand to participate would reduce the chances of success of other smaller operators in the state.

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, who chairs the Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee, indicated that the bad actor language was added to close to the end of the session. There simply was not enough time to discuss the terms, which could have been amended to put PokerStars on a 5-year ban – something which was first proposed in California.

However, there is still hope. Pretlow says he will reintroduce the bill next year and will do so near the beginning of the legislative session in January. Though it not how the New York Assembly typically operates, he hopes introducing the bill early will provide time to discuss and pass the bill in 2018.


Hailing from Wisconsin but arriving in Las Vegas in 1995, I'm better known at various US online poker rooms under the pen name "OreoBob" and "SoyFlush". I'm an avid poker player and editor-at-large who has contributed as a freelance writer for diverse national and international iGaming publications since 2004.

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August 2020