DOJ Pushes to Extend Wire Act to Online GamblingPublished August 27, 2019 by Elana K
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has appealed the ruling of a federal judge in New Hampshire who ruled that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting, not to online gambling. The appeal was expected, but once again puts online gambling in the US at risk.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has appealed the ruling of a federal judge in New Hampshire who ruled that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting, not to online gambling. The appeal was expected, but once again puts online gambling in the U.S. at risk.
The Saga of the Wire Act
The Wire Act has been the subject of debate for many years. It was originally passed in 1961 and prohibited certain types of betting. Until 2011, that included online sports betting and online gambling. However, in 2011 the DOJ ruled that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting, not to online gambling, and several states launched online gambling sites. In November 2018, the DOJ went back on its 2011 ruling and claimed that online gambling is also prohibited by the Wire Act.
Needless to say, the November ruling upset numerous states, especially those with online gambling and online lotteries. The New Hampshire Lottery Commission sued the DOJ in response to its new ruling in February 2019, since it threatened to remove a big source of revenue for the state. U.S District Judge Paul J. Barbadoro ruled in favor of the NHLC and affirmed that the Wire Act only applies to online sports betting, not online gambling.
Last week the DOJ, led by Attorney General William Barr, filed a Notice of Appeal to Judge Barbadoro; the judge says he expects the case will make it all the way up to the Supreme Court. For now, the First Circuit Court of Appeals is on break till October, so until then, nothing will move forward.
But it doesn't seem like the DOJ has much ground to stand on. Even industry advocacy group iDEA (the iDevelopment and Economic Association) responded that the DOJ's appeal was "unwarranted," and said it should focus more on illegal offshore gambling sites, not legal U.S. operations.