Last week US Department of Justice has radically changed its position on the Wire Act stating that all online gambling unrelated to sporting events falls outside the scope of the federal law.
US Deputy Attorney General, James Cole wrote: “The Department’s Office of Legal Counsel has analyzed the scope of the Wire Act, 18 U.S.c § 1084, and concluded that it is limited only to sports betting.”
This statement could potentially have a deep effect on the whole gambling industry in US and lead to major changes in American gambling laws, finally liberalizing the market. The announcement sparked a multitude of reactions from key industry players.
Executive director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), John Pappas, commented: “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.”
He went on to add: “The PPA commends Assistant Attorney General Seitz for recognizing this. However, this ruling makes it even more important that Congress acts now to clarify federal law, and to create a licensing and regulation regime for Internet poker, coupled with clear laws and strong enforcement against other forms of gambling deemed to be illegal.”
Pappas once again stressed PPA’s position that any legalization should preferably be carried out on a federal rather than state by state level.
“This will provide policy makers at both the state and federal level with the legal confidence to move forward with licensing and regulation of online poker sites in United States and other non-sporting activity within their respective jurisdictions,” Pappas continued “However, it is our hope that our federal policy makers see this as an incentive to move quickly to enact federal licensing and regulation before various states produce a mix of individual state schemes that may not be the best model to serve consumers.”
Alfonse Amato, former senator and chairman of the PPA, agreed with Pappas and told United States gambling news: “State by state licensing and regulation could result in a balkanized online poker world where players across the nation would be limited in their choices of where and against whom they could play.”
He added: “This could potentially reduce the number of total players, reducing revenues state lawmakers project from this activity. At the same time, it would deter entrepreneurs from entering the online poker market, as there would essentially be 50 different sets of laws and rules to which they would have to adhere.”
He concluded: “We urge members of Congress to act quickly based on this announcement and pass legislation like H.R. 2366 to license and regulate online poker at the federal level.”
Stay tuned to our news as we continue to cover the industry reactions to historic Department of Justice announcement.