The Department of Justice Now Says Intrastate Online Gambling is Legal
American online gamblers on Friday received a Christmas present from the Department of Justice when it reversed its opinion on intrastate online gambling and said that individual states has the authority to license and police non-sports related intrastate online gambling.
The legal opinion, which was issued by the DOJ, came in response to numerous inquiries from Illinois and New York about online lottery sales, as well as to letters written by Sen. Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada and the Senate Majority Leader, and Sen. Jon Kyl, a Republican from Arizona, asking for clarification on the gaming’s legality.
For many years, the DOJ has maintained that the Wire Act disallowed all forms of online gambling. However, it its letter written to Sen. Reid and Sen. Kyl, the DOJ declared that it is now modifying its position after the law was reviewed by the department’s Office of Legal Counsel, or OLC.
In the letter, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich, said, “The Wire Act only applies to the transmission of bets or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers relating to sporting events or contests.”
Weich also said, “Since state lotteries conducted by New York and Illinois do not relate to sporting events, OLC concluded that the operation of these lotteries would not violate (the law).”
After addressing the issue on lotteries, he then turned his attention to other types of online gaming.
Weich said, “Although the OLC conclusion differs from the Department’s previous interpretation of the Wire Act, it reflects the Department’s position in Congressional testimony at the time the Wire Act was passed in 1961. It also provides much needed clarity to those state governments that would like to permit wholly in-state, non-sports Internet gambling, including Internet lotteries.”