The Department of Justice had long held the position that the Wire Act of 1961 applies to all forms of internet gambling, but after reinterpreting the Act they have now changed their position and believe the 50-year-old law only applies to sports betting and not other forms of online gambling.
While the decision doesn’t specifically mention online poker, some reason that the ruling will pave the way for legalized online poker.
“If the Wire Act is limited to bets on sports events and races, what other federal anti-gambling statutes are left?” wrote Professor I. Nelson Rose on his blog, Gambling and the Law.
“There are prohibitions on interstate lotteries, but Powerball and the other multi-state lotteries show how easily these can be gotten around, even before Congress passed an express exemption for state lotteries. And poker is not a lottery under federal law.” Rose continued that since the Wire Act refers to bets being placed on an event, poker would be except because poker is itself the event.
The Department of Justice released a memo that attempted to distance this ruling from having anything to do with the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act.
“In light of that conclusion, we need not consider how to reconcile the Wire Act with UIGEA, because the Wire Act does not apply in this situation. Accordingly, we express no view about the proper interpretation or scope of UIGEA,” read the memo.