Summary: Former senator of New Jersey, Raymond Lesniak, is preparing to fight for a declaratory judgement on the recent opinion by the Department of Justice involving the Wire Act.
Online gambling operators were hit with a major blow just a few days ago when it was made public that the Wire Act had been changed to now make all interstate online gaming illegal. The change will create significant complications for the online gaming industry, affecting the location of servers, financial transactions, live dealer gaming and more. Former Senator of New Jersey Raymond Lesniak played a major role in this home state in starting iGaming operations and now it seems he will be back in action to try and stop these recent changes.
Lesniak along with other lawmakers are working to see a declaratory judgement on the new opinion, in the hopes of straightening out the new changes. Lesniak recently spoke with Online Poker Report, calling the new opinion ‘outrageous’ and stating that it puts state revenues at risk as well as lotteries. If Congress does not move to fix the issue, then he will do so via the judicial process.
In 2013, New Jersey became the second state in the US to offer online gambling. The change was made due to the 2011 ruling by the Justice Department in which the Office of Legal Counsel ruled that the scope of the Wire Act only reached sports betting.
According to the former senator, the new opinion is a threat to the boost that the state’s casinos have enjoyed over the years as well as a threat to the revenues and jobs of the state produced via online gambling. Sports betting at racetracks and casinos may also be impacted in a negative manner. The former senator does not want to see the state lose the gains they fought so hard for over the past few years.
Lesniak commented that it is unclear as to why the DOJ decided to make the change after seven years of allowing the state and lotteries to take part in online gaming. The name Sheldon Adelson has come up, but it is unclear if the Las Vegas Sands has pushed for this change. He has been very vocal in his stance against online gambling and has spent millions in support of campaigns against iGaming as well as in support of republican candidates.
Slowing Down Progress
Over the past few years, online gambling has progressed. The states that already offer the option are growing in their operations and other states are looking at getting started in the industry. Pennsylvania passed iGaming legislation in 2017 and spent last year working to set up their new industry. They are expected to begin operations this year, however, operators are now having to create plans of action to present to the Gaming Control Board, showing that all aspects of their operations will remain within the state’s borders.
It could be that this new decision will affect online gambling in the US going forward. States may be leery once again to get started, as they may be afraid of federal prosecution. Now, all is reliant on how the DOJ will be enforcing the new opinion. Only time will tell if the change will fully affect online gambling and in what manner.
We will stay abreast of the details and provide info as soon as it is made public.