Attorney General Nominee Lynch Guarded About Reinterpreting Wire ActPublished February 21, 2015 by Lee R
If she was willing to reinterpret the Wire Act, then the scope of prohibitions against gambling could be limited in favor of online gambling.
The online gambling industry is watching with baited breath as Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch clarifies her stance on the 2011 interpretation of the Interstate Wire Act of 1961.
Online Gaming Industry Watches
Reinterpretation of the Wire Act by the Department of Justice in 2011 opened the doors for regulated online gambling in the states of Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. The Lynch responses currently under scrutiny were provided to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee as follow-up questions to her January 28 confirmation hearing.
The questioning was led by Senators Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina) and Diane Feinstein (D-California), the latter of whom requested a commitment from Lynch to direct Department lawyers to re-examine the Office of Legal Counsel’s 2011 re-interpretation of the Wire Act. Reinterpretation is an essential issue in the gaming industry, due to its previous application to virtually all forms of gambling, serving to prohibit online gambling across the board in the United States.
The landmark 2011 reading applied the prohibitive Wire Act only to sports betting, but not other forms of gambling, ostensibly opening the door for state consideration of online regulation.
Lynch wrote that upon confirmation she would review the Office of Legal Counsel's opinion, but wrote that to her understanding, “OLC opinions are rarely reconsidered,” implying that ultimately as Attorney General Lynch has no plans to change the interpretation any further in either direction.
RAWA Unfavorable to Industry
A more telling indication of Lynch's stance may be revealed later in the year, when Senator Graham is expected to reintroduce the Restoration of America's Wire act later this year, a measure which if approved would apply the scope of the Wire Act to potentially all forms of online gambling again. The key for industry players in America is the limitation of the scope of the Wire Act to sporting wager activity. If RAWA were to pass, the potential for online gambling in more states would be severely curtailed.