US DOJ says all online gambling is illegal

The Department of Justice updates its opinion on the Federal Wire Act

In a reversal of its previous stance on online gaming, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that it is updating its opinion of the Federal Wire Act. Previously, it held that the act only applied to online sports gambling, but now says that it covers all forms of online gambling. The decision could have far-reaching implications for states that have already created online gambling pacts, as well as others that are considering legislation to get in on the action.

The DOJ asserts that the opinion won’t necessarily change the entire industry, but adds that there could be some negative fallout. An official with the department, who wished to remain anonymous, stated, “The change here will have some impact, but it doesn’t mean that large swaths of gambling that were once legal are now illegal and vice versa. Not to say that there couldn’t be some situation where this extends the reach; this is just one more tool.”

A number of entities could suffer as a result of the change, including legal lottery operators that sell tickets online. Undoubtedly, the court system is about to be inundated with cases that challenge the DOJ’s position and look to prevent it from overreaching its authority.

Needless to say, there’s at least one individual happy about the decision. Las Vegas Sands chief Sheldon Adelson has been an outspoken opponent to all types of gambling that don’t fit his agenda. It’s difficult to fathom that the DOJ would change its opinion seven years after the fact if it weren’t for some type of influence by someone in the gambling industry.

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