The US Department of Justice (DOJ) reversed its opinion on the 1961 Federal Wire Act in January. Plus, operators were given until April 15th to comply or else face stiff penalties. On March 1st, the DOJ confirmed with Gambling Compliance that the deadline is now for mid-June.
Initially, the Wire Act applied only to sports betting. Now the DOJ says it applies for most forms of online gambling. As a result, the sketchy opinion is being challenged by several organizations and lawmakers. Last month, the New Hampshire (NH) Lottery Commission and the state’s attorney general filed a legal challenge of the new opinion. Plus, NH’s online lottery platform provider NeoPollard Interactive and iDEA Growth both filed its challenge.
And that’s not all, US Attorney General (AG) Matthew G. Whitaker and Deputy AG Rod J. Rosenstein both expressed strong objections. Also, New Jersey AG Gurbir S. Grewal and Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro are both taking swift action against the new stance. So, it’s likely these challenges are the reason why the DOJ is delaying its mid-April deadline. At this point, it’s starting to look like they’re not going to be able to proceed with any enforcement.
Pick Your Battle Wisely
In brief, the DOJ went out on the limb on this one! Not to mention, its new position on the Wire Act is exceptionally unpopular and disliked. So before the DOJ can actually enforce any legal action against operators, this case will have to make its way through the legal chain of command. Furthermore, if this argument makes it to the Supreme Court, it’s more than likely that the DOJ’s new opinion will not survive.
Looking ahead to this summer, it’s going to be interesting to see how this all unfolds. PA has plans to launch online sports betting in July. Also, they just announced that their first interstate gambling operation will launch in June! And from the looks of things, they don’t seem to be backing down one bit! The truth is, the Wire Act causes eyebrows to raise in all the states, including NJ! In fact, the policy aims to stop all interstate gambling. But the good news is that now, there more than one state fighting the battle!