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The New York State Senate has voted  to legalize online poker in the state, a historic expansion of gambling.

The Senate bill allows allow the state’s 11 racetrack casinos to apply for 11 licenses to hold online poker games.

If approved by the state Assembly, New York would become just the fourth state in the country to legalize online poker gambling, according to Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, chair of the Senate’s racing, gaming and wagering committee.

New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada are the only other states where it’s legal. The Assembly still has to discuss the bill before deciding whether to vote on it this week, the final week of the legislative session this year, said Michael Whyland, a spokesman for the Assembly Democratic majority.

Within minutes of the vote, MGM Resorts International, which owns casinos in Las Vegas, Detroit, Biloxi, Miss., and Tunica, Miss., and elsewhere, issued a statement applauding the Senate.

“Creating a safe, regulated option for online poker players in New York would generate millions in new tax revenue that could be used for education and other critical investments,” said MGM General Counsel John McManus. “We applaud the Senate for passing this sensible legislation.” 

If online poker gambling becomes legal Bonacic said he believes the state’s racetrack casinos might partner with Las Vegas casinos to offer the internet wagering

Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. Email: [email protected]

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