Summary: The new opinion of the DOJ for the Wire Act has many gaming stakeholders ready to fight, with three legal challenges against the ruling having been filed.
Earlier this year, the public was made aware that the Department of Justice had reviewed the Wire Act of 1961 again. The Wire Act was reinterpreted by the Obama Administration in 2011 with the change paving the way for online gaming. Now, the DOJ has decided that the Wire Act will apply to all interstate online gambling, instead of sports betting, banning all interstate activities. This affects not only online poker but also online lottery gaming and more in the US.
Those who offer online US gambling sites or are working to begin offering services are not happy with the change. So much so, that there are already three legal challenges against the new ruling. The state lottery along with their technology supplier in New Hampshire have filed a lawsuit via US District Court in their home state to fight the change. Now, another group is in the mix.
In the lawsuit filed by the New Hampshire Lottery, the United States Attorney General William Barr and the Department of Justice are named as defendants. In the technology supplier’s lawsuit, the USA is named as the defendant. As of this week, a third lawsuit has been filed against the DOJ involving the Wire Act opinion.
iDEA Growth is a trade group that works to advocate for online gambling regulation. They have now decided to work with the Ifrah Law firm in order to file suit. On the filing, the lead attorney, Jeff Ifrah, stated that they are trusting the New Hampshire Court to give the appropriate weight to the judicial precedent over political factors when making their decision.
Ifrah points out that the decision will have a major impact on the fast growing industry that is set to have a positive impact in the economy of states across the nation.
New Jersey Could Take Action
While the current lawsuits against the DOJ reside in New Hampshire, other states are considering taking action. Stephen Sweeney, the Senate President in New Jersey, has stated he will file a lawsuit for the state if the DOJ does not revoke the new Wire Act opinion. New Jersey would be affected by the ruling as they currently offering interstate online poker gaming with Delaware and Nevada.
So far, the Wire Act opinion has yet to see an online gambling operator or a casino venue take legal action. It seems that a filing may be in the works in the future, but only time will tell as to if anyone will take the leap to try and take on the DOJ.
The Wire Act opinion change would be of great detriment to the online gambling industry in the US. Several states offer online lottery gaming, which could be affected, along with the above-mentioned states operating interstate iPoker.
The change takes place in the republican Trump administration, and many feel that Sheldon Adelson is to blame. The CEO of the Las Vegas Sands has been a strong supporter of Trump and has continued to push for an overall online gambling ban.
The Attorneys General of New Jersey and Pennsylvania have formally complained against the opinion change, with the NJ AG moving to obtain records involving the new opinion. The goal is to make sure the Adelson or other lobbyists had nothing to do with the decision made involving the Wire Act.