US online poker and gambling may be in jeopardy if there is any truth to recent rumors indicating that the DoJ might reverse its 2011 opinion on the Wire Act.
A number of websites that focus on poker, casino gambling and sports betting are reporting that the US Department of Justice (DoJ) is getting ready to issue a new opinion that would reinterpret the original 1961 Wire Act and make it applicable to gambling in all shapes and forms – not only sports betting.
The DoJ’s 2011 opinion paved the way for individual states to regulate online poker and gambling as they see fit. Thus far, only Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have done so, the latter expected to launch their respective i-gaming regime sometime in 2019.
Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling Strikes Again
Since that decision was issued seven years ago, opponents of online gambling have attempted to sway the DoJ to change the ruling that allowed states to move forward at their behest. It is believed that that opposition is being led by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire with deep pockets and plenty of connections to the Republican party thanks to generous donations that he’s known to have made in the past.
It should be pointed out that nothing is certain with regard to the latest rumors. However, plenty of scuttlebutt within the industry leans toward a DoJ decision being handed down shortly. Exactly how the new opinion would affect the states that have already passed online poker and gambling legislation remains to be seen.
Also unknown is how the ruling would affect the future of i-poker and i-gaming. That future, as many already know, was brightened considerably last May when the US Supreme Court ruled that sports betting could also be regulated and offered by individual states.
A number of states have already moved forward with sports betting regimes, while others are known to be considering bundling sports betting with online poker and gambling legislation. Any new DoJ decision could have an effect on any progress that may have been made.
New Federal Sports Betting Bill
To add further uncertainty to the mix, Senators Orrin Hatch of Utah and Chuck Schumer from New York just introduced a bill that would regulate sports betting on the federal level. The two legislators, a Republican and Democrat, respectively, are hoping to gather support for their Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018.
Designed to protect consumers and preserve integrity throughout the sports world and the betting market, the proposal was introduced just weeks before a new Congress will be seated following the November elections. Hatch won’t be around to continue pushing for the proposal as he’s set to retire at the end of this term.
We will have to wait and see whether a new DoJ opinion on the Wire Act does, in fact, materialize. Also up in the air is whether the Hatch and Schumer measure will gain any momentum considering the timing of the newly introduced federal sports betting bill.