Two WSOP Online Bracelet Events Open for NJ
Just a few days ago, the World Series of Poker revealed more information about the upcoming summer extravaganza. There are going to be promotions and giveaways, photo opportunities, special tournaments, a fundraiser, more automatic shufflers, and new tables for some of the cash games.
The entire 2019 50th Annual WSOP schedule is now available online, complete with structure sheets.
All of the gaps seem to be filled in, and the details are there. But there was one part of the upcoming WSOP that was a nagging mystery. Was the new Wire Act opinion from the US Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel – and its current court battle – going to affect the online tournaments? More specifically, would New Jersey online poker players be able to compete in the nine online bracelet tournaments on the WSOP schedule this summer?
We now have an answer. New Jersey players will be able to compete in some of the tournaments, at least the first two.
New Jersey Players Welcome
This week, Pokerfuse was able to confirm that the first two of the nine online WSOP bracelet events will be run through the multi-state online poker network in the US. Since that network is still very limited, it means that New Jersey and Nevada players will be able to compete together.
Of the nine online events on the schedule, the first two take place before June 14, a deadline set by the Department of Justice for the new Wire Act opinion to become enforceable. Those two events are:
June 2: $400 NLHE (3x reentries, 15K chips, late reg until 7:15pm PT)
June 9: $600 PLO 6-Handed (unlimited reentries, 15K chips, late reg until 7:15pm PT)
Why Only Two Events?
The answer lies in US law and its interpretations by the Justice Department.
Online poker in individual states and on an interstate level – wherein poker sites can share player pools – was authorized by a 2011 DOJ decision regarding the Wire Act. That opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel determined that the Wire Act pertained to sports betting only, not online lotteries, poker, or casino games. That decision led to Nevada authorizing online poker, Delaware and New Jersey legalizing online poker and casino games, and Pennsylvania and West Virginia following in subsequent years.
And so far, the only online poker operator in multiple states is the WSOP, which means it has been the only one to enter the multi-state online poker network thus far.
In November 2018, however, anti-online gaming billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s efforts to ban online gaming paid off when the DOJ reversed that 2011 opinion. The new opinion, which wasn’t made public until January 2019, put state lotteries and online gaming in jeopardy.
While states and online lottery providers began to file suit in the US District Court, US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein put a hold on the enforcement of the new Wire Act opinion. The civil lawsuits request that the new opinion be invalidated – or at the very least clarified – and the case has the potential to go to the US Supreme Court. However, the current court decision is expected some time in May…or in early June at the latest.
Rosenstein extended the enforcement hold on the Wire Act opinion at the US District Court judge’s request, and the effective date now stands at June 14.
Anything Can Happen
The situation is fluid at this point.
Rosenstein is retiring on May 11, which means US Attorney General William Barr or the new (and yet undetermined) Deputy AG could step in and remove the hold, extend it, or leave it at mid-June no matter the outcome of the civil suit.
The court could rule in favor of the state lotteries and overturn the new Wire Act opinion, which would allow online poker to continue as usual, and all nine online WSOP events would be available for New Jersey players.
Alternatively, the court could rule in favor of the DOJ, which would render all interstate gaming illegal. That would put an end to all online poker liquidity immediately.
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