Pennsylvania gambling bill wait; Wire Act deadline extended

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Two important pieces of news for online poker fans came out earlier this week; one from Pennsylvania and one from the Department of Justice.

Let’s start in Pennsylvania where the long wait for online poker and online casino games to go live painfully continues. It’s been 16 months since the Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill making online poker and online casino games in the state legal, and still not a single site has gone live.

That may finally change in July.

On Wednesday at a budget hearing before the Pennsylvania House Appropriations Committee, Kevin O’Toole, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced that he expects online poker and online casino sites to finally launch in the state around July 1.

That launch date will miss the initial timeline set in January when it was expected online poker and casino games would launch sometime in the first quarter.

A big reason the launch has seen further delays is the recent change of opinion from the Department of Justice on the Wire Act. Under the new opinion the DOJ says the Wire Act, which prohibits interstate wagers, applies to all forms of gambling and not just sports betting as the previous opinion stated.

Is the DOJ Wire Act deadline extended?

After the new opinion came out the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board gave state casinos 30 days to devise a plan that would make sure their operations followed it. The casinos were required to show how they would make sure all operations, including wagering and infrastructure would be located in Pennsylvania.

Other news:   Virginia Introduces Online Lottery & Sports Betting Bill

Turning to the DOJ, they’ve been making plenty of news and headlines since the reversal of the Wire Act opinion. Following the reversal, the DOJ created a non-prosecution period of 90 days to allow the states impacted by the change to get their affairs in order. That deadline was set to expire on April 15.

The deadline will be changing, as earlier this week it was leaked that that DOJ will announce a 60-day extension of the non-prosecution period. That would advanced the deadline to June 14. It is expected to be officially announced next week.

The extension comes amid numerous legal challenges being filed against the new opinion by numerous states. There have also been numerous public criticisms of the new opinion, specifically from New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney and New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. New Jersey could see its online poker interstate with Nevada and Delaware compact harmed under the new opinion.


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