The DoJ recently released a statement regarding the Wire Act of 1961 and clarified the Act’s stance on online gambling and online poker. It claimed that online poker did not come under the Wire Act. Naturally, this announcement will make it easier for Full Tilt Poker to re-enter the US market soon after the DoJ completes its transfer to Bernard Tapie after the funds are exchanged.
U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole commented on this announcement stating, “The Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (“OLC”) has analyzed the scope of the Wire Act, 18 U.S.c § 1084, and concluded that it is limited only to sports betting.” This is great news for the AGA, the PPA and any online poker sites looking to cater to US players.
While stating the DoJ’s reading of the Wire Act with relation to online poker, Assistant Attorney General Virginia A. Seitz who authored the opinion stated that the relationship between the two legislations is not applicable in the situation under question.
Following the DOJ’s announcement, the AGA is now seeking federal legislation of online casino gambling and online poker. According to the AGA, “The Department of Justice’s interpretation regarding the scope of the federal Wire Act validates the urgent need for federal legislation to curb what will now be a proliferation of domestic and foreign unlicensed and unregulated gaming websites without consistent regulatory standards and safeguards against fraud, underage gambling and money laundering.”
They believe that it is in the interests of the federal government to enact a federal regime for regulating and licensing online poker. Multiple state level laws, they say would limit the choice for customers across the nation and lead to gaps in control measures against inherent threats like money laundering, under age gambling and fraud. There would also be an adverse impact on potential revenues because the state level player pools would be restricted by the intrastate nature of the activity in individual states.
The AGA is looking to prevent this situation and are trying to implement “federal legislation that protects states’ rights, establish uniform safeguards to protect US consumers, keep children from gambling on the Internet and provide the tools law enforcement needs to shut down illegal Internet gambling operators.”
Even the PPA has responded to the announcement stating, “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.”