An arm from the federal government reversed an 8-year-old legal opinion that particular states always figured gave them the go-ahead to launch on-line gambling. It definitely sounds just like the feds are picking a fight. But are they?
This week the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel issued a replacement for its 2011 opinion which stated the Wire Act only applies to sports betting. Its new opinion is that the act applies to any type of gambling that crosses state lines.
Obviously, the Wire Act was written in the 1960s, before there even was an Web.
However, this new opinion could imply otherwise legal US online gambling runs afoul from the law. Or a minimum of legalized intrastate on-line gambling that utilizes technologies to route data out of state does. Or, interstate on-line gambling, like the handful of poker sites that share player pools in now three states, may, as well.
The American Gaming Association, for its part, seems to believe little will probably be impacted:
“It is unfortunate that the Department of Justice departed from well-established practice in reversing its prior opinion without a compelling purpose to complete so. However, the 2018 OLC opinion does not influence the ability for states and Tribes to legalize and regulate gaming on a state-by-state and tribal basis, or for businesses to supply the thrilling goods and entertainment experiences our customers want.
On the surface, it is an opinion that sounds like it should place states which have legalized on-line gambling on notice. Additionally, it seems like it says the battle for a state’s right to create its choice on online gambling is now on. But is it?
Are lawyers for New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware and Pennsylvania suddenly calling to say they’ll be operating late for the foreseeable future?
Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus believes the fight is coming. Rep. Titus issued a statement denouncing the reversal nearly immediately after hearing the news. It reads:
“Though the full impact of this reckless DOJ reversal remains to become noticed, we are able to be certain that it will inject uncertainty into a well-regulated marketplace and push customers back in to the black marketplace. Sadly, the Trump Administration only supports states’ rights when it is politically convenient. Regardless of this setback, I’ll continue to lead the fight in Congress to ensure states like Nevada can determine what is very best for them on the query of online gaming.”
Good for her. It sounds like Rep. Titus and other people are ready to begin fighting the great fight from inside Congress. Nevertheless, the real battleground for this sort of conflict is inevitably the courts. For all those paying interest, the states have currently landed the first couple of blows there.
Actually, there are currently choices in the 5th Circuit and also the 1st Circuit Courts of Appeals holding that the Wire Act applies only to sports betting.
The feds may decide to provide the opinion the enforcement teeth it needs to be worth greater than the paper its written on. But if it does, it’ll begin the court battle down 0-2.
Of course, it remains to become noticed whether this really is just an opinion or an opinion the DOJ wants to enforce. Plus, it is unclear whether or not the federal government desires to invest the type of cash, time and sources that major pro sports leagues did fighting a similar battle against a state’s correct to legalize sports betting.
New Jersey already proved the US Supreme Court would ultimately back a state’s constitutional right to create its choices on gambling. Do the feds want to run down the same road? And do they really wish to do it armed with almost 60-year-old legislation they clearly have to stretch super thin to create relevant these days?
The Trump Administration has confirmed it loves a good fight. However, will it really wish to take on 1 that’s so obviously a loser?
The DOJ might want to be a real Wire Act stickler right here. If that’s the case, it could most likely take its new interpretation from the law and force states to alter some things. For example, the DOJ could force operators to improve the tech, so data isn’t routed out of state.
Nevertheless, if it tries to do anything greater than that it’s doomed to fail. The DOJ must know this. Truly, it can’t have any intention of going after US on-line gambling as a entire.
Consequently, the battle to get a state’s right to determine its fate with regards to on-line gambling hasn’t been renewed. Actually, this latest Wire Act opinion appears more like some thing else entirely. It seems to become the Trump Administration throwing an aging casino owner and anti-online gambling zealot a bone. A thank you of sorts for all the cash he’s funneled its way.
Nevertheless, it means very little with out real enforcement behind it.