DOJ declines to appeal Wire Act ruling

DOJ wire act

It looks like the long saga of the Wire Act potentially killing interstate online poker is over.

Interstate poker officially became legal again earlier this week after the Department of Justice declined to appeal the decision in a lawsuit between the DOJ and the New Hampshire Lottery. The DOJ had until June 21 to file the appeal. The failure to file an appeal means the DOJ accepts the ruling.

The whole saga began in January 2019 after the DOJ sent the American online poker industry into a frenzy when it released a memo that reversed the opinion on the Wire Act that had been published in 2011. That previous opinion stated that the Wire Act applied only to sports betting.

The new opinion issued in 2019 by the DOJ stated that the Wire Act applied to all forms of gambling.

This caused problems for states like New Jersey and Nevada who had previously entered into compacts to share online poker player pools. The new Wire Act opinion effectively made this sharing of players between states illegal.

It also effected interstate lotteries which is why the New Hampshire Lottery sued the DOJ in June, 2019. The U.S. District Court ruled in favour of the New Hampshire Lottery and ruled the old opinion of the Wire Act was correct.

That ruling, was upheld by the First Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year following a DOJ appeal that was filed last August. Now that the final appeal deadline has passed it appears that the Wire Act saga is finally over and interstate online poker can continue.

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While the Wire Act was being argued several states launched online poker, including Pennsylvania and Michigan, but neither entered into interstate compacts. Now that the DOJ’s challenge of the Wire Act is over it is expected that Pennsylvania, Michigan and other states getting into online poker will quickly enter into interstate agreements.


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