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NEWS 15 February 2019

New Jersey Senate President threatens lawsuit against Department of Justice

By Tim Poole

The Department of Justice (DoJ) is facing opposition from the New Jersey Senate over its recent reinterpretation of the Federal Wire Act.

In January, the DoJ reversed its September 2011 opinion, which interpreted the Wire Act as legislation that only applies to sports betting, and suggested it will now be applicable to all forms of gambling.

The law was formed in 1961 and prohibits all interstate wagers placed – or information passed on pertaining to wagers – via telephone or wired communication facility.

However, New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney has asked the DoJ to rescind its latest opinion, threatening court action if it refuses to back down.

In a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Sweeney wrote: "If the OLC 2019 Wire Act Opinion is not rescinded, I have authorised former Senator Raymond Lesniak to file suit in US District Court on behalf of the New Jersey Senate for a Declaratory Judgment that the 2019 OLC Opinion is arbitrary and capricious and that the statutory prohibitions of the Wire Act are uniformly limited to gambling on sporting events or contests."

Rosenstein had previously sent a memo to gambling companies saying the DoJ will wait 90 days to implement its new opinion.

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