DOJ Decides to Delay Wire Act Opinion Enforcement

A collective sigh of relief was felt across the US recently as the Department of Justice decided to delay the enforcement of their new opinion regarding the Wire Act. The DOJ has no plans to enforce the opinion until 2020. This allows states such as New Jersey and New Hampshire to carry on online activities without fear of not being in compliance.

Change of Heart?

When the DOJ made their new Wire Act opinion public, the online gambling industries in the US were up in arms. The ruling basically said all interstate online gambling was illegal instead of just sports betting as the 2011 opinion of the Wire Act dictated. States quickly sprang into action to fight the opinion, with the New Hampshire Lottery filing a lawsuit.

The DOJ was asking for compliance quickly then increased the window and were set to enforce the ruling on June 14th. However, they did not and have announced that they will be delaying the enforcement of the Wire Act opinion change.

The New Hampshire Lottery recently got a win in their case against the DOJ has a federal judge ruled that the new opinion had no legal standing and that the state could continue with their lawsuit against the government. This decision most likely played a role in the opinion not being enforced at this time.

In New Jersey, the state is now able to offer more to online poker players thanks to the ruling not being enforced. With the World Series of Poker underway, players in New Jersey could take part in online bracelet events. However, only two were open to the state instead of all nine because the enforcement was pending.

However, now that the DOJ is not enforcing their opinion, players can still take part. The WSOP event taking place on the 16th was offered to players online in Nevada as well as New Jersey. The WSOP has now confirmed that all nine of the online poker bracelet events will be available to players in both state.

For online casino operations in the state as well as in other areas, the threat of prosecution for being in violation of the Wire Act opinion are gone for now. The DOJ will not be pressing charges for operators passing information across the state lines at least for a few months. The same goes for online lottery operators. They can all rest a little easier knowing that there is still time to make changes or hope for a turn around back to the 2011 opinion.

Moving Forward

In early June, Federal District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro of New Hampshire threw out the new opinion and ruled that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting. A little over a week later, the DOJ produced a memo that said they will not be taking immediate action based on the new opinion of the Wire Act.

The DOJ is evaluating their options and have extended the deadline for compliance to December 31st 2019 or 60 days after the final judgement involving the litigation in New Hampshire, whichever comes first.

The DOJ has yet to state if they will appeal the decision in New Hampshire. We can assume they will but hopefully all efforts to see this new opinion of the Wire Act will be stopped in their tracks. Operators as well as lawmakers have placed too much time and effort in existing operations and legislation as well as states working on passing legislation to get in on the action


Logan is based in Los Angeles and is an avid poker player having played in tournaments across the globe. He covers both poker & regulatory affairs.