The most-recent DoJ opinion is directly opposite of what was offered by the Obama administration. The previous DoJ statement suggested that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting.
The Wire Act of 1961 deems that gambling offered across state lines is illegal. However, this law was made well before the internet and online betting became prevalent.
New Jersey Must Protect Online Gambling Market
The Garden State offers online poker and casinos. They have hopes of featuring internet sports betting if the activity is ever cleared up legally.
The old DoJ Wire Act opinion has cleared the way for New Jersey and other states to feature internet poker. But the current opinion under the Trump administration threatens this market.
Other states like Delaware, Nevada, and Pennsylvania have something at stake here too. The former two states are much like New Jersey in that their online markets are up and running.
Lawsuit Threat Comes from Stephen Sweeney
New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who’s a big proponent of online gambling, is behind the lawsuit. He’s already sent a critical letter to the DoJ and has threatened a lawsuit if they don’t change their minds.
Here’s one excerpt from his letter:
“If the OLC 2019 Wire Act Opinion is not rescinded, I have authorized former Senator Raymond Lesniak to file suit in U.S. District Court on behalf of the New Jersey Senate for a Declaratory Judgment that the 2019 OLC Opinion is arbitrary and capricious and that the statutory problems of the Wire Act are uniformly limited to gambling on sporting events or contests.”
New Jersey and the other states mentioned could lose out financially on the money they’ve poured into creating internet gambling markets. That said, they’re not going to sit idly by and let the federal government suddenly ban online gaming on a federal level.