US Operators To Implement DOJ Opinion By Mid-June

Viktor Vangelov | Published 5 Mar 2019, 3:48 p.m.

The new opinion by the US Department of Justice on the Wire Act and its enforcement caused a lot of controversy. We’ve covered this topic in our piece The Wire Act applies to online gambling – New DOJ opinion and back then we predicted that the opinion will likely be challenged, either by operators or by some of the states who aren’t happy with the decision. 

Initially, the DOJ gave operators 90 days to implement the changes, but it appears that this is about to change. Several states, as well as certain operators have expressed their intention to challenge the opinion and take the DOJ to court. Worries have also been expressed regarding the implementation, so the DOJ decided to do the obvious thing and postpone the enforcement until mid-June. 

The DOJ Gives Stakeholders 60 Additional Days

The decision has just been announced, and now operators have more time to bring their activities in line with the new opinion. There have been some suggestions that the DOJ actually regret publishing the new opinion in the first place and that they intend to revert their decision again. 

The deadline has been delayed by 60 days, which actually gives everybody a lot of time to prepare and enforce the new standards that stem from the decision, but it is pretty clear that certain operators and other stakeholders will attempt to challenged, the decision and encourage the Department of Justice to rethink the whole issue and revert their opinion.

According to the newly published decision, the Wire Act applies not just to sports betting, but to all existent forms of gambling. This actually challenges all forms of intrastate online gambling, including lottery, especially if the form of gambling involves transfer of data and payment processing and that enables companies to deal with customers, i.e. offer them services. 

New Hampshire And Other Entities Challenged The Opinion

New Hampshire, i.e. the state Lottery Commission have already challenged the opinion of the DOJ, and few states, or bodies/organisations formed and owned by states have expressed their decision to do the same. For instance, NeoPollard Interactive – a lottery platform provider has already challenged the opinion and so have iDEA Growth trade group.

It may turn out that DOJ won’t even be able to start proceedings against any states or other entities that have violated the Act, i.e. the opinion on the Act, as it will be challenged, and many stakeholders hope and expect that the opinion will be overruled. 

Furthermore, if a First Circuit court decides that all actions should be stopped until a final decision is reached, then the DOJ will not be in a position to take any action against anybody. 

Operations In Pennsylvania Will Likely Be Delayed

Pennsylvania is one of the states that intended to launch an interstate gambling operation, but they have just announced their decision not to go through with the plan immediately and to postpone the launch until June and perhaps even July. Pennsylvania also had a plan to launch online sports betting operations and that will also commence in the same period. 

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) requested all holders of internet gambling licenses to check and see whether they conduct their operations in accordance with the new opinion on the Wire Act that we discussed above. The executive director of the PGCB said that there will be only a minor delay when it comes to the plans to launch online operations. But, if we have a detailed look into the matter, we’ll see that it’s been 20 months since Pennsylvania Governor signed the act into law.