The Wire Act has been threatening the sports betting, online poker and iGaming industries in the United States. With the legislation expected to arrive on April 15. However, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has caved, deciding to delay the implementation of the law by 60 days. As a result, the new decision will hit on June 15, roughly the same time Pennsylvania is expected to introduce its own online casino expansion.
The news that the DOJ won’t be pushing ahead with the early deadline is indicatory of one thing only – they probably didn’t expect the backlash they have received from multiple states, including New Jersey, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. New Hampshire has already launched several lawsuits against the DOJ. Not all lawsuits were the doing of state bodies, specifically, though, with a private business and a trade group spearheading two of the lawsuits. The third came from the New Hampshire Lottery Commission.
Meanwhile, New York will consider a mobile sport betting bill, indicating that the state is oblivious of the imminent threat in the face of the Wire Act. This is important for Pennsylvania as well for the United States as a whole. The WA Opinion will expand to feature all forms of gambling, which can be a spanner in the works for many industries.
Addressing Wire Act Head On – Lotteries Strike Back
Needless to say, Lotteries have been the first to remonstrate about the changes. Pennsylvania has seen the lottery’s sales hit as much as $4.3 billion yearly so any attempt to shut down this lucrative activity will be met with little more than distaste.
Given the back push from state, the DOJ may be taking a 60-day break to reconsider how it wants to handle this and whether it can wreak havoc elsewhere. There are several scenarios right now:
- States will unite to defend the right of online gambling to exist in places like Pennsylvania, NJ, Nevada, Delaware and elsewhere
- DOJ will try to appease the lotteries and weaken the burgeoning coalition against the WA
- The Department will go straight after payment processor to limit the payouts for regular players, engaging in a game of attrition
This is speculation, although it all seems very likely at this point. The DOJ will be able to target inter-state gaming as soon as the legislation comes into effect officially on June 14, 2019. The question is how states will handle themselves. NJ and PA have already made an explicit warning that should the DOJ pursue with the WA implementation, litigation will follow.
The delay in enactment may be either because DOJ has heeded this warning and the anti-online gambling sponsor Sheldon Adelson’s health is worsening, or they could simply be preparing to handle the influx of legal storm that is gathering.
Pennsylvania is treading carefully in the newly formed context. The state does have a distinct advantage that it won’t launch pre-maturely and have to handle the fallout of the WA decision later. In lockstep with the new Opinion Act, PA is readying for expanding its online casino industry.