US DOJ delays enforcing new Wire Act opinion
A couple months ago in January, the US Department of Justice announced its new opinion on the US Federal Wire Act, a 1961 law that barred all forms of wire communication facility while gambling, to include online gambling as well. This was received with plenty of backlash by at least two US states, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
The DoJ still kept to its reinterpretation of Wire Act and didn’t pay much attention to the other side. It announced that it will enforce this new opinion starting 15th April 2019. However, this week, the DOJ has planned to extend this deadline by another 60 days until mid-June.
The DOJ’s new opinion was very sketchily created in January and the wordings were very vague. It is even strongly speculated that Sheldon Adelson, one of the key stakeholders in the land-based casino business had lobbied to implement this reinterpretation, being close friends with most of the Trump Presidency.
In February, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission and the state’s attorney general filed a legal challenge of the DOJ’s new opinion. New Jersey’s Attorney General Gurbir Grewal also went a step ahead and filled a Freedom of Information Act request to officially find out if Adelson had anything to do with it.
It appears increasingly unlikely that DOJ will be able to launch any enforcement proceedings against anyone who breaks the new interpretation before the First Circuit courts issue an injunction preventing the DOJ from taking any action until the process has served its way in the legal chain of authority.
Pennsylvania is among the states gearing up to offer online gambling and will be affected the most. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) announced, just before this announcement, that its first intrastate online gambling operations won’t be launched until late June at the earliest and most likely not until early July.
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