NJ attorney general sues DOJ over Wire Act case

The attorney general sued the DOJ over a casino owner’s link to the Wire Act re-interpretation.

US.- New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal filed suit on Tuesday in a US District Court against the Department of Justice (DOJ). This is because he claims the DOJ failed to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests about Sheldon Adelson’s lobbying efforts related to the recent Wire Act reinterpretation.

Grewal filed back in February a FOIA request asking for documents about Adelson’s involvement in the Wire Act opinion, but to date hasn’t received records of a formal response indicating why they weren’t provided. He believes that Adelson’s involvement could negatively impact New Jersey’s online gaming industry.

“Online gaming is an important part of New Jersey’s economy, and the residents of New Jersey deserve to know why the Justice Department is threatening to come after an industry we legalized years ago,” Grewal said in a news release Tuesday. “It’s especially important that we figure out whether this federal crackdown is the result of a lobbying campaign by a single individual seeking to protect his personal business interests.”

Grewal claims in the complaint that the state requested an expedited response since the DOJ opinion will go into effect June 14. According to DOJ’s guidelines, an expedited FOIA request should be fulfilled within 20 days.

DOJ’s opinion on the Wire Act

The DOJ set a new legal opinion last November and released it in January. It said that the Wire Act should apply to all forms of online gambling instead of just sports betting. This new opinion could affect other forms of online gaming that have interstate deals. The previous opinion established that the Wire Act only applied to sports betting. It emerged in 1961 to fight crime by banning racing and sports betting across communications in the country. Then in the 90’s served to ban online gambling.

The reinterpretation could cost states US$220 million

According to legal experts, Powerball and Mega Millions are at risk if the opinion is read to the letter. Should it happen, states would end up losing money used to fund scholarships, senior citizen services and other programs. States which sell lottery tickets online (seven) fear the business would be illegal under the opinion.

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