DOJ To Appeal The Wire Act Ruling

Viktor Vangelov | Published 19 Aug 2019, 10:46 a.m.

The Wire Act and the Department of Justice opinion regarding its scope from November 2018 have been focal points of discussion in US gambling circles. The opinion from 2018 was effectively a reversal of the 2011 decision. We’ve reported on the issues and all events regarding its interpretation on a number of occasions.

In 2011 the Department of Justice ruled that the Wire Act applied only to sports betting and not other gambling activities. The Wire Act was passed in 1961 with the aim to prohibit the establishment of certain types of betting operations in the US. We’ll give you a brief overview of the Wire Act and its interpretations over the years.

While in the US, states are looking for ways to regulate sports betting and other forms of gambling, authorities and regulators in the UK are primarily concerned with responsible gambling, i.e. its promotion. We’ve seen numerous responsible gambling initiatives in the past several months, as well as quite a few initiatives aimed at tackling problem gambling. This time it is the Bet Regret GambleAware campaign, or to be more precise its second wave.

A Federal Judge Overruled The DOJ Opinion

When the Wire Act was passed in 1961, nobody could predict the emergence of the internet, let alone the endless opportunities that came with it. The goal of this law was to prevent interstate betting chains, i.e. to enable residents of states where betting is illegal from placing wagers over the phone with betting operators based in states where spots wagering is legal.

Many argued that the Wire Act couldn’t apply to internet betting for the simple reason that there was no internet and therefore no internet betting when it was passed, but others claimed that the logic and the wording of the act made it clear that it also applied to internet betting and all potential forms that involve placing a wager from one state with an operator that’s based elsewhere.

In 2011 the Department of Justice issued an opinion, concluding the Wire Act applied only to sports betting and not other forms of gambling, but in November 2018 it reverted its stance, issuing a second opinion which stated that it also applied to other forms of gambling.

Many states that have already launched initiatives aimed at regulating and enabling gambling operators weren’t too happy about it and wanted to take the Department of Justice to court over the decision.

New Hampshire filed a lawsuit against the DOJ and a federal judge ruled in favour of the state and against the Department. It has just been announced that the Department of Justice is going to appeal the decision which could prolong the whole process for two more years.

Gamble Aware Proceeds With Its Campaigns

The new GambleAware campaign is encouraging punters to think twice before placing a wager, particularly wagers placed while they are drunk, bored or when chasing losses. A survey shows that almost two thirds of all younger punters in the country think that there are too many betting opportunities. The issue of problem gambling was covered by BBC Panorama, earlier this month.

The first wave of the campaign proved to be successful, especially with punters who had shown signs of risky behaviour. The boss of GambleAware stated that the campaign is gaining momentum, adding that the audience is responding positively. GVC Holdings are among the organisations that fund the campaign. GVC Holdings have been quite critical of other operators that in their opinion have not contributed to responsible gambling sufficiently. The latest example of this involves the 32Red Derby County Sponsorship deal.  

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