The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has clarified its position on the Wire Act of 1961 clearing the way for states to use the internet to sell lottery tickets.
The DOJ opinion was written in September as a response to requests from the states of Illinois and New York regarding interstate lottery sales. For reasons not mentioned, the opinion dated September 20, 2011, was just released last week.
The 13 page opinion released by Assistant Attorney General Virginia A. Seitz is summarized at the beginning by the following two sentences.
Interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a “sporting event or contest” fall outside the reach of the Wire Act.
Because the proposed New York and Illinois lottery proposals do not involve wagering on sporting events or contests, the Wire Act does not prohibit them.
Black Friday lingers on for the online poker community
April 15, 2011, has been dubbed Black Friday by the online poker community, as on that date online poker was suspended at the top three United States websites PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Cereus Poker Network.
The United States federal criminal case of United States v. Scheinberg, alleges that the the three largest online poker companies and a handful of their associates violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The key defendant in the case is Isai Scheinberg, founder of PokerStars.
UIGEA, The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 is the United States legislation regulating online gambling. The law does not prohibit online poker and internet gambling specifically. What the law does is prohibit the use of the internet for accepting payments.
The future of online poker
Many folks saw the Wire Act as directly connected to the enforcement of UIGEA. The recent Wire Act opinion could have cleared the way for online poker gambling to return if it had specifically addressed any connection to UIGEA. Instead the DOJ decided to specifically state there was no connection.
The Wire Act opinion concludes with following two statements.
In light of that conclusion, we need not consider how to reconcile the Wire Act with UIGEA, because the Wire Act does not apply in this situation. Accordingly, we express no view about the proper interpretation or scope of UIGEA.
While Wire Act opinion falls short of directly addessing UIGEA it does open the door for a clarification and most likely an update to UIGEA in the year ahead.
Online poker legislation
Online poker will be big business, and everyone wants a piece of the action. Numerous poker and internet groups have organized in support of online poker, and various states have proposed laws looking to latch on to new federal laws in the works.
After months of talk and speculation, Representative Joe Barton of Texas introduced a bill in June that would allow for the legalization of online poker in the United States. The bill, H.R. 2366, has the formal name of the “Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2011.”
Once again it looks like there is a catalyst for the battle to heat up and congress to revisit the proposed online poker legislation.
If you missed any of the previous articles on online poker and internet gambling, please check out the links below.
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