Wire Act Reversal in Progress, Details Unknown

Wire Act Reversal in Progress, Details Unknown

While most writers in the poker media were gearing up to pen a few articles about holiday online poker tournaments and making predictions for 2019. Which states might legalize online poker? Who will be poker’s next breakout star?

The United States government had other plans.

It seems that the Department of Justice decided to give in to the Grinch this year, not only taking gifts from under the tree (online poker in four states) but removing the chance of having a holiday next year…or the year after that. And who’s the Grinch? Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. And yes, Senator Lindsey Graham is that little dog that doesn’t know any better and participates in the shenanigans because he walked into the trap of campaign funding set by Adelson.

But I digress.

The Department of Justice is reversing its 2011 Wire Act decision that authorized states to legalize and regulate online lotteries, poker, and casino games.

Credible Sources

Online Poker Report has its ears to the ground at all times and reported today that the Justice Department is writing an opinion to reverse the 2011 decision from the Office of Legal Counsel regarding the Wire Act.

The opinion “will likely say that the Wire Act applies to all forms of online gambling and not just sports betting.” Online Poker Report’s Dustin Gouker also concluded that the opinion could be published this week, which would reduce public reaction to it due to its timing just before the Christmas holiday.

There is no guarantee that the new decision will be finalized, however.

Possible Ramifications

Currently, Nevada offers online poker. Delaware and New Jersey offer online poker and casino games, and Pennsylvania is preparing to launch the same in early 2019. Other states are in the process of considering legislation to legalize and regulate online poker and casino games, specifically Michigan and Illinois, the former of which is considering doing so this week.

Further, there are numerous states that put lottery ticket sales online after the 2011 decision, all of which would be affected by a DOJ change as well.

Some experts say that the DOJ decision is not binding law, and states with more than a passing interest in this matter could fight it in the courts, requiring Congress to pass a law instead of relying on the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel. States might have to spend time in the court system to continue to offer their online services, any stoppage of which would immediately and negatively affect New Jersey’s gambling revenue bottom line.

Speaking of New Jersey, US Bets spoke to recently-retired State Senator Raymond Lesniak about the news, as he was one of the most outspoken and important lawmakers supporting pro-online gambling legislation during his time in the New Jersey Senate. He did not mince words. “I would expect that the New Jersey delegation, which is very powerful, would stand up to protect New Jersey’s interest.” He then added, “Internet gaming was responsible or keeping the lights on in some casinos, and sports betting over the internet is the greatest revenue producer for our casinos, as well as the state of New Jersey. Meddling around with that would cause us grave concern.”

Bah Humbug

The push for the Department of Justice to reverse its 2011 decision is not a huge surprise. Some members of Congress, most with deep ties to Adelson, have been working on variations of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act for several years.

One of Adelson’s most vocal mouthpieces has been US Senator Lindsey Graham, who just recently admitted that the Wire Act and his hope to overturn the 2011 opinion is one of the most important issues with relation to speaking with US Attorney General nominee William Barr.

Graham may get his Christmas wish even sooner than he hoped, without having to wait for Barr to be confirmed. His pressure on the DOJ for several years may have paid off.


About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

Disclaimer: The information on this site is my interpretation of the laws as made available online. It is in no way meant to serve as legal advice or instruction. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for further or official guidance.

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