What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas — except for legal poker, one Williamsburg lawmaker is hoping.
Emboldened by the all-but-certain demise of Off Track Betting — the state’s sole legalized gambling outfit besides the lottery — Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Williamsburg) has proposed legalizing the legendary game of frontiersmen, card sharps and guys named “Fats.”
Lentol said he was inspired by the needs of today’s young gamblers.
“Poker is the game that most people want to play now,” said the longtime assemblyman, who last made headlines for his promise to swim in the fetid Newtown Creek to attract Google’s high-speed Internet service for Greenpoint. “New Yorkers watch it on TV, they play poker on their computers and many would like to go out for a night and play it in a nice setting.”
And without OTB, even more wagering fans will head to Atlantic City or Foxwoods to lose their money — money that the state could be getting.
“Joe’s view is, let’s update how people want to be entertained through gambling,” said Lentol’s Chief of Staff Cathy Peake. “When Off Track Betting came out, I remember, there were big screens and all sorts of different things you could do. Now people have big screens in their house.”
Lentol would not elaborate on what a poker parlor would look like or whether they would replace existing OTB storefronts, but said parlors could have amenities such as snack bars, televisions, and even other sports — as long as they were regulated.
Of course, every good poker player knows that you never count your money when you’re sitting at the table. Indeed, Lentol would have better odds of drawing a royal flush than getting his bill into law.
To become law, not only would the bill need to pass both houses and be signed by Gov. Paterson, but it would require a Constitutional amendment adopted by voters through a referendum.
In other words, fold.