The United States Department of Justice recently changed its opinion on the 1961 Wire Act, a controversial move that has been met with varying measures of support and criticism. The motives behind the reversal of the opinion are still not quite clear and this has caused a lot of havoc for the gaming industry in the United States where the online gambling landscape has been making tremendous strides towards further growth. Naturally, the new opinion was going to have profound effects on the industry since it would force both the states that have regulated gaming markets and the online gambling operators to implement changes that would, in one way or the other, be setbacks to the industry.
New Jersey, one of the biggest and oldest regulated gaming markets in the United States, has decided that it will not sit back and watch things unfold and they have instead opted to challenge the Department of Justice opinion in a court of law. The state has recently announced that it plans to file a lawsuit against Department of Justice over the new opinion it released last month.
As mentioned earlier, the motives behind the new opinion have not been ascertained but it is speculated that the move was part of some illicit monkey business orchestrated by anti-online gambling casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. It is further believed that the process was supervised by former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions who is also not shy about his bold stance against online gambling.
In a letter addressed to the Department of Justice on February 13, 2019, Steve Sweeney, the New Jersey State Senate Majority Leader, asked that the opinion is rescinded with immediate effect and reverted to the policy that had previously been established by the same body back in 2011 – the notable 2011 opinion was rendered by Eric Holder who was the USAG at the time. If these demands are not met, Steve Sweeney said that the state will then proceed to authorize the Frank Lezniak, a lawyer and former New Jersey Senator, to file a lawsuit against the Department of Justice on New Jersey’s behalf.
From the looks of things at the moment it is quite easy to predict how everything will play out. As it stands, the states and their online gaming operators were given a grace period by the Department of Justice to ensure that they make appropriate changes in compliance with the new Wire Act interpretation. It is likely that New Jersey will head to court after the grace period elapses and they might even ask for an emergency buffer period during the duration of the lawsuit. It might be all worth it as the state seeks to protect its online gambling industry.