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DOJ delays Wire Act opinion until 2020

DOJ delays Wire Act opinion
The reinterpreted Wire Act opinion has been pushed back.

The Department of Justice announced it hasn’t given up on its renewed Wire Act opinion but delayed it until 2020.

US.- The US Department of Justice (DoJ) recently issued a Wire Act reinterpretation that could hurt online gaming. The opinion may end up costing a bunch of states at least US$220 million in annual lottery profits.

However, it just announced that it will delay its application until 2020. In a Wednesday memo, Deputy Attorney General Jeff said they extended the ‘grace period’ for the opinion. That way he said federal prosecutors “should not apply the Wire Act to non-sports-related betting or wagering.”

It was extended to 2020, “or 60 days after entry of final judgment in the New Hampshire litigation, whichever is later.” The DOJ explained the extension “is an internal exercise of prosecutorial discretion and does not create a safe harbour for violations of the Wire Act.”

Recent ruling against the DOJ

Judge Paul Barbadoro rejected the DOJ’s 2018 opinion on the Wire Act, which replaced the 2011 one and affected other forms of online gaming that have interstate deals. The reinterpretation would have affected states like Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, three states that legalised online gaming in 2011 and have an interstate compact for online poker.

The plaintiffs on the lawsuit presented in February were the New Hampshire Lottery Commission and NeoPollard Interactive, its lottery vendor. They claimed that the ruling would also affect the education fund.

Judge Barbadoro said in the 60-page ruling: “In summary, I deny the Government’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction because the plaintiffs have established standing, and the Government has not met its burden to show that the case is moot. I grant the plaintiffs’ motions for summary judgement and deny the Government’s cross-motion for summary judgement.

“I hereby declare that § 1084(a) of the Wire Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1084(a), applies only to transmissions related to bets or wagers on a sporting event or contest. The 2018 OLC opinion is set aside,” he concluded.

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