U.S. Department of Justice Reverses Stance on Online Gambling

26 December 2011

Merry Christmas U.S. online gambling!! Last week, right before the Christmas holiday was to begin, U.S. online gamblers got the best present of all. The Department of Justice had changed its stance and is now stating the Wire Act of 1961 only applies to sports betting.

Back in July, Senators Harry Reid and Jon Kyl as well as Illinois and New York ask the DoJ to clarify its position regarding online gambling and poker in regards to the Wire Act.  With this new official stance, states will now rush to take advantage with new lottery games as well as the possibility of using the same cross state tactics used for the major lottery games to allow online poker back into the United States.

According to the office of legal counsel for the Justice Department;

“We conclude that the Criminal Division’s premise is incorrect and that the Wire Act prohibits only the transmission of communications related to bets or wagers on sporting events or contests.”

Attorney General Ronald Weich said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that;

“…in states that ban various forms of gambling–including Internet poker–the Department will be able to investigate and prosecute those gambling businesses under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and other sections of the criminal code.”

With this new stance, even more pressure is on Congress to have legislation in place to regulate online gambling. This change in stance by the DoJ has cleared a path by which individual states can move forward on setting up their own offerings for online gambling.

The Poker Players Alliance released a press release where it’s executive director, John Pappas applauding the clarification and called for Congress to act now,

“This is a much needed clarification of an antiquated and often confusing law. For years, legal scholars and even the courts have debated whether the Wire Act applies to non-sporting activity. Today’s announcement validates the fact that Internet poker does not violate this law. The PPA commends Assistant Attorney General Seitz for recognizing this. However, this ruling makes it even more important that Congress act now to clarify federal law, and to create a licensing and regulation regime for Internet poker, coupled with clear laws and strong enforcement against other forms of gambling deemed to be illegal.”

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