New York Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow is one of the biggest proponents of online poker in the state. After introducing a bill to legalize the game in 2014, he’s continued to show support for iPoker as discussions get more serious. So it’s little surprise to find out that he can’t stand the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), which seeks to make online poker and other forms of iGaming illegal. And Pretlow wrote about his disdain for RAWA in an op-ed at RollCall.com, which we’ll discuss below.
RAWA would prevent States from deciding on iPoker for themselves
One big thing that the assemblyman dislikes about RAWA is how it would keep states from being able to decide if they like online gaming. Pretlow, who heads the New York State Assembly Committee on Racing and Wagering, has kept a close eye on how Delaware and New Jersey have handled their regulated iGaming environment. He writes the following on the matter:
“As nearby states such as New Jersey and Delaware have adopted well-regulated systems, they’ve seen a corresponding increase in tax revenue, and the security technology they have employed has not only kept gaming safe within their borders, it has created a legal system where law enforcement can crack down on the fraud and any other illegal activity that currently runs rampant in the robust online black market.”
RAWA would also stop States from generating New Income Sources
Another problem that Pretlow sees with RAWA is how it would deprive states of a large potential revenue source. As he points out, the New York State Lottery contributed $3.11 trillion to the state’s education fund during the 2014-15 fiscal year. Online poker wouldn’t be this significant, but it’d certainly contribute a sizable amount. Here’s an excerpt from Pretlow on how iGaming would help boost New York’s tax revenue:
“What’s more, lotteries are only one source of revenue for the state that would be impacted by RAWA; in New York we could leverage tax revenue from legal online poker to invest in the programs that matter most to New Yorkers. As states continue to recover from the recession and grapple with budget shortfalls, the steady growth of gaming revenue cannot be responsibly overlooked. Last year, New Jersey’s online gaming tax revenue was $122 million, and Delaware took in almost $2.1 million.”
Pretlow says Prohibition doesn’t work
One last point that the assemblyman made was that merely prohibiting online poker wouldn’t stop unregulated, offshore sites from offering the game. Pretlow cites how “prohibition doesn’t work,” and banning online gaming will merely help offshore sites continue thriving. And considering that unregulated iGaming generates around $3 billion annually, that’s a significant amount going to offshore casinos and poker sites.
Pretlow has been a driving force in pushing iPoker throughout New York, and it seems like a bill will be legalized in the Empire State within the next few years. Given how serious New Yorkers are taking iGaming legislation, don’t expect Pretlow to back off his criticism of RAWA and Sheldon Adelson’s efforts to ban online poker.