DOJ Wire Act Decision Unlikely to Affect US Online Poker Sites

The recent Department of Justice (DOJ) reversal of a previous Wire Act decision on online gambling from 2011 likely won’t affect US poker sites serving American players.

Earlier this week, the Office of Legal Counsel with the DOJ announced that the 1961 Wire Act, which prohibits the electronic transmission of interstate wagers, applies to all forms of online gambling, including online poker.

This reverses a previous finding from 2011 which stated the Wire Act only affected sports betting. Or maybe a misplaced comma in the 2011 wording never intended it in the first place? Why wait eight years to correct the comma and re-state the real intention?

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The 2011 opinion led to numerous states regulating and legalizing online poker and gambling. This includes Nevada, Delaware New Jersey and Pennsylvania, with West Virginia and New York currently debating legislation to do the same. It’s unknown how the DOJ’s reversal will affect online poker and casino gaming in these states going forward.

What is the impact of the Wire Act decision?

Some experts expect not much to change right away and there are rumors that the states will have a 90-day window in which no legal action against them will be taken. After that, expect the decision to end up in federal court where it could be argued and debated for years before anything is actually decided.

In the meantime, states like New Jersey West Virginia could have their own intrastate legislation hindered if the DOJ decides to enforce the Wire Act. There is also the matter of a US online poker liquidity pact between New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada, which clearly is inter-state and clearly would violate the re-thinking of the Wire Act’s ‘across state lines’ wording.

While states like New Jersey and West Virginia remain in the dark about the future of online poker, nothing much is expected to change for US poker sites that serve the US market from abroad. It should continue to be business as usual.

One factor which could change is an increase in deposits through cryptocurrencies. The new DOJ ruling may cause some credit card companies to rethink their approval of transactions with online poker sites, whether they are domestic or overseas. Making a deposit via Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency is the preferred way to skirt that problem.

So, if you’re thinking about making a deposit to take advantage of huge $1,000-plus bonuses, it looks like the time has never been better.