Dickinson Wright: Biden likely to rescind DOJ's 2018 Wire Act opinion

By Tim Poole
Dickinson Wright’s Jeff Silver, Of Counsel, and attorneys Greg Gemignani and Patrick Sullivan, believe the election of the Joe Biden administration could signal the end of the Wire Act dispute borne out of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) controversial 2018 opinion.
 
In early 2019, the DOJ publicly announced it had reversed its September 2011 opinion a few months earlier, which initially said the Wire Act was legislation that only applies to sports betting.

The act, written in 1961, prohibits all interstate wagers placed, or information distributed regarding gambling, by telephone or a wired communication facility.

In its new stance, the DOJ said the Wire Act is applicable to all forms of gambling – including online casino, poker and lottery. However, political wrangling since saw a New Hampshire Federical District Court rule against the interpretation, with the DOJ filing to appeal this decision.

Dickinson Wright's attorneys, however, believe Biden will both withdraw this appeal and rescind the 2018 opinion.

Writing exclusively in Gaming America, they said: "It caused an uproar among state lotteries, which could no longer rely on the 2011 opinion to conduct remote intrastate lottery product sales.
 
"Cheered on by other online interests, they challenged the 2018 opinion in a New Hampshire Federal District Court, which ruled in their favor, confirming at least for that judicial circuit that the DOJ’s 2018 rewrite was flawed and the Wire Act only applied to sports wagering.

"The DOJ has since appealed that decision. However, it’s anticipated that the Biden administration, under new leadership, will both rescind the 2018 opinion and withdraw its appeal.
 
"This should provide a clear path for expanded use of internet communications for other gaming products such as intrastate online games, interstate online games (other than sports) where conducted by licensed gaming operators in each state, and expanded uses of interstate-wide area progressives by commercial and tribal gaming operators."
 
Be sure to read the full article in the January/February edition of Gaming America magazine, which will be available both in print and online here.
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