The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has revised its Wire Act. As many may already know, the act simply prohibits the ‘interstate transmission of information’ concerning wagers or betting on sport events. Back in 2011, the DoJ said the rule wasn’t applicable to betting that did not relate to sports. But, earlier this month, the department revised the interpretation stating that any form of online betting would be a violation of the act. With that being said; casinos, lottery and online poker could be shut down. Read on for more.
What the Wire Act Implies for US Gambling
The Wire Act interpretation threatens all forms of gambling games, including fantasy sports. This disregards if betting in that state is legal or not. “Even if the betting takes place in a jurisdiction where it’s legal, if the communication is routed into another state, that could trigger the Wire Act,” said Jennifer Roberts, the associate director of the International Center for Gaming Regulation at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
However, it wasn’t indicated how far the DoJ would go on to enforce the latest opinion. Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General said in a January 15 memorandum that prosecutions could begin after 90 days. He said that “a 90-day window will give businesses that relied on the 2011 Act opinion time to bring their operations into compliance with federal law” and that “this is an internal exercise of prosecutorial discretion; it is not a safe harbor for violations of the Wire Act.”
Concerns over the Act
Many were left ‘somewhat’ confused by the new interpretation and called for clarification on what the act covers specifically. This includes how the decision would impact states that currently offer regulated online gambling. However, senior vice-president of public affairs at the American Gaming Association (AGA), Sara Slane said that there was no immediate need for gambling operators to be worried. Slane said: “[they] will work with all stakeholders to preserve the ability of states and tribes to regulate gaming,” and that she “encourages [the] DOJ to investigate and shut down illegal, unregulated gambling operators who prey on consumers”.
The DoJ’s policy was welcomed by anti-gambling groups as expected.