DOJ extending Wire Act deadline?

When the DOJ changed its opinion on the Wire Act earlier this year, they set a 30-day time period during which no prosecutions under the new opinion would be launched.

According to reports, that deadline will be extended sometime this week.

For anyone that missed the change of opinion, the DOJ reversal stated the Wire Act, which deems the transmission of wagers and bets between states to be illegal, would apply to all forms of online gambling, including online poker and casino games.

The previous opinion of the act stated that it only applied to sports betting.

The old deadline set by the DOJ on new Wire Act prosecutions would have lapsed on April 15. The reported extension will be for an additional 60 days, which would make the new deadline June 14. An official announcement from the DOJ on the extension is expected later this week.

How does new Wire Act opinion affect online poker?

The new Wire Act opinion has been a tough pill to swallow for states that have legalized online poker and have created interstate compacts to share player liquidity. Under the new opinion these types of compact would be deemed illegal and may have to be stopped.

New Jersey has entered into interstate compacts with Nevada and Delaware and has already come out fighting against the new opinion as it could end up costing them online poker revenue. Earlier this month New Jersey State Senate President Stephen Sweeney wrote a letter to the DOJ stating that if the new opinion was not reversed then New Jersey would see them in court.

The New Jersey Attorney General, Gurbir Grewal also threw his support behind challenging the new opinion with a letter to the DOJ jointly signed by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and a Freedom of Information request to see if Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson was involved in lobbying the DOJ to change their opinion.

Even states that have not yet legalized online poker and gambling have wade into the fight. New Hampshire’s Lottery Commission has filed a lawsuit against United State Attorney General William Barr and the DOJ itself challenging the new interpretation.

With the deadline on prosecutions expected to be extended it will be interesting to see how many other states join the fight with their own court challenges and statements.