The Wire Act shouldn’t apply to online gambling, says Biden

Viktor Vangelov | Published 24 Dec 2019, 7:56 a.m.

While UK laws generally become more restrictive and there’s big chance further limitations will be introduced in the upcoming year, amid discussions of a new online limit to match the fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) that was introduced earlier this year. Both major parties, well, at least prominent figures within them have stated their convictions that gambling laws should be more restrictive, in the sense that there should be a betting limit applied to online betting. Iain Duncan Smith, one of the most prominent Tory figures has previously expressed his view that it is a shame that there’s no legislation that regulates online betting, i.e. there’s no online wagering limit.

Although the Labour party was considered to be more fiercely opposed towards online gambling in general, the Tory victory isn’t likely going to have a too positive impact on the industry as a whole. On the other hand, in the US, there are hints that the legislation and the overall legal framework in the country is set to become a lot more permissive.

Biden Disagrees with the DOJ

Namely, US presidential candidate Joe Biden, believes that the DOJ’s position on the Wire Act and its scope is erroneous. We’ve covered this issue on a number of occasions before, the US DOJ believes that the Federal Wire Act applies to all forms on online gambling, not only sports betting. The Wire Act was passed in 1961 to prevent interstate betting over the phone, but as many would point out – there was no internet back in 1961.

The US Supreme Court repealed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which essentially prohibited sports betting at a federal level, prompting many states to proceed with a sports betting legalisation initiative. In some cases, sports betting has already been legalised, there are several such states and few more where an initiative is already put forward.

A new era under Biden?

The Wire Act, its scope and implementation have been one of the most debated gambling topics. Many have argued that the law simply can’t apply to all forms of gambling, but Biden is probably one of the most prominent figures to do so. If he is elected President, Biden is certainly going to put forward an initiative of that sort which could ultimately change the country’s gambling landscape.

Biden, who served as Vice President under President Obama spoke to union workers in Vegas and he did mention the Wire Act. Biden added that he is not in favour of adding additional restrictions, like the ones introduced under Trump. 

Biden feels that the DOJ should revert back to the opinion that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting and allow states to make decisions regarding the online gambling markets within their territory. He also feels that states and federal authorities should work together to ensure that all gambling is fair, safe and free of corruption.