Dramatic Announcement From The US Department Of Justice Opens Doors To Online Gambling
Saturday, 24. December 2011

While online gambling has experienced a remarkably strong year in Canada, things have been fairly tough for online gaming enthusiasts south of the border in the US. The vast majority of online casinos stopped accepting US players as did the vast majority of online poker rooms after the events of Black Friday. While operators and players alike will surely look back on 2011 as the darkest days for US online gamers, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has just publicized documents that could make 2012 the brightest of days. The documents, released yesterday, pertain to its legal opinion regarding the Wire Act and stated that interstate communications that are not related to “sporting event of contest” fall beyond the reach of the auspices of the Wire Act.

The relevant documents were actually drawn up in September but were only publicized yesterday. The documents relate to inquiries made by the states of New York and Illinois regarding the interstate sales of lottery tickets over the Internet. In the memo, drawn by the Assistant Attorney General Virginia Seitz, the DOJ ruled that the Wire Act only pertained to sports betting and that both states could go forward with their plans to sell lottery tickets online. Until this ruling, the Wire Act was interpreted to have regarded all forms of gambling.

The DOJ further ruled that the authority to both regulate and license online gambling, other than sports betting, lies with the states themselves. It is important to note that the DOJ stressed that states could prosecute operators under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act for illegally offering online gambling services that the states themselves deemed illegal.

The DOJ made it clear that these recent conclusions made by the Office of Legal Counsel will in no way stop the DOJ from continuing to prosecute online gambling cases where the business is “part of a larger criminal scheme.”

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