DOJ’s says Federal Wire Act of 1961 bans all inter-state online gambling

Local News

The U.S. Department of Justice just announced major restrictions to online gambling.  In a new public opinion report, they say the federal Wire Act includes all betting that crosses state boundaries.

That means the future of placing bets on the internet is up in the air, and this can affect avid online bettors like Paul Rimmer and Christina Williamson.

“Weekends mainly, and I do, I enjoy doing it. I don’t do it for a fortune, sport mainly, and I do enjoy it,” said Paul Rimmer, online gambler visiting Las Vegas.

In the DOJ’s public opinion report, the agency said the Wire Act of 1961 says all forms of online gambling across state lines are illegal. This reverses a 2011 opinion, which only prevented sports betting.  The DOJ says the 2011 judgment “conflicts with the plain language of the Wire Act.”

UNLV gaming expert David Schwartz says it’s hard to tell how this latest interpretation of the Wire Act will impact Nevada.

“If you play with mobile apps, if you bet on sports with mobile apps in Nevada, if you play Poker in Nevada on mobile apps or your computer, it doesn’t touch that,” said David Schwartz, the director of Center for Gaming Research at UNLV.  “If you want to do that across state lines though, it might affect that.  It could restrict some of the poker pooling where people can join from different states into one pool.”

The Nevada Gaming Control Board also says the implications are yet to be determined.

“There is an inter-state compact between Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, where Nevada participates with regard to poker only, and that’s in question,” said Becky Harris, the chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Some people say the restrictions are ridiculous, while others believe little will change.

“Gambling online is a problem, but not to the point where you should make it illegal,” said Christina Williamson, visiting Las Vegas.  “It’s everyone’s choice if they want to gamble.”

“I think that people who like to do the online thing will continue to do it,” said Kenny Jones, Las Vegas resident.

Gaming operators have 90 days to comply with the new regulations. Also, note that the DOJ’s opinion is entirely separate from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year, where it allowed states to legalize sports betting.

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