Summary: The arguments in the case involving the recent Wire Act opinion change by the Department of Justice will begin soon with reports suggesting a decision will be made by May.
When the United States Department of Justice decided to change their opinion of the Wire Act, it sent gaming operators scrambling. When the Wire Act was changed in 2011, after decades of remaining the same, the change allowed states to legalize online gambling. The only stipulation was that interstate sports betting online would not be allowed. Now, the DOJ has changed that opinion to include all interstate online gambling.
Because of the decision, several stakeholders have filed a suit against the DOJ. The New Hampshire Lottery Commission is one such group, ready to take on the federal government and ensure their iGaming industry stays intact. Arguments in the case begin in less than two weeks and according to the executive director of the NH Lottery Commission, a decision could be made as early as May.
Charles McIntyre, the executive director of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, recently spoke with Online Poker Report on the case. McIntyre expects the judge to make a decision before May comes to an end.
According to McIntyre, the issue is a statutory one. There is much to consider because the law was put on the books before the internet was created. Most older laws in the US have been updated to reflect the changes in technology. This one has not. McIntyre feels that Judge Paul J. Barbadoro, the one presiding over the case, will be considerate and take 30 to 40 days to come to a decision.
It was in January that the updated opinion was made public to include all forms of interstate gaming. The Wire Act was first created in 1961 to fight activities of the mob, including illegal sports betting operations. With the 2011 opinion, the DOJ made changes so that the internet was considered and states could legalize online poker, casino and lottery gaming.
Now that the new opinion has been made, states that offer online gaming are at risk. The New Hampshire Lottery Commission wasted no time in challenging the ruling. They filed a lawsuit in district court in the city of Concord. Other states and groups can tag along by filing an amicus brief.
What’s the Deal?
With the change, interstate gambling is at risk. Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada all work together to offer interstate online poker gaming. With the new Wire Act ruling, this would have to come to an end. Several states also take part in online lottery gaming. Such games as the Powerball can be played in multiple states. The DOJ’s new opinion of the Wire Act now puts hundreds of millions of dollars at risk as lotteries are unsure if they are in compliance or not with the changes.
Several possible issues have been under consideration, including payment problems and server locations. Several companies that operate in New Jersey are planning on offering online gaming services in Pennsylvania as well. Before the rule change, the operators could have used servers for iGaming in New Jersey to service Pennsylvania sites. Now, such operators will have to set up servers in Pennsylvania to be in compliance.
With payment issues, operators are worried that financial institutions will once again be leery of processing deposits based on the DOJ ruling. If this occurs, sites will have a problem providing financial options for their members.
The hearing is set to begin on April 11th. Hopefully we will know something soon as to what will happen to the online gambling industry in the US. Will the Wire Act be changed back to its 2011 format, or possibly changed yet again?