Interstate Online Poker Legalized as DOJ Declines Wire Act Ruling Appeal

It’s been a long and winding road when it comes to the Wire Act and interstate online poker. For years, poker proponents have waited for the saga to be over. Finally, it has come to an end. Interstate online poker is officially legalized now that the United States Department of Justice has not filed an appeal in a lawsuit involving the government organization and the New Hampshire Lottery.

The deadline to appeal was June 21. Back in January, a First Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a ruling in a lower court that said that sports betting was the only gambling activity that the Wire Act applied to in the United States.

Back in January 2019, the DOJ under the Trump Administration released a memo that said the 2011 opinion of the Wire Act was reversed. Back in 2011, the Obama Administration had ruled that the Wire Act only applied to sports betting. This allowed states to get started offering online casino and poker gaming. States like Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada started a multi-state agreement where online poker player pools were shared, giving a larger pool to pull from for the smaller states.

With this new decision in 2019, it wreaked havoc among online gambling services, including poker and the lottery. The states offering shared player pools, including lottery games like Powerball, took action. They felt that their services were at risk due to the Trump DOJ decision.

The New Hampshire Lottery was the first to file a lawsuit against the DOJ. The Lottery had servers in another state, which put it at risk due to the legality of the Wire Act change. The NH Lottery soon saw a favorable ruling, but the DOJ filed an appeal. The pandemic caused a delay in the process and the first appeal was not heard until this past January. At that time the District Court upheld the previous ruling.

At this time, Joe Biden is the president, and his office is not worried about battling the Wire Act and the court’s decision to include only sports betting. Now that the battle is over, states like Michigan and Pennsylvania can start offering interstate online poker services, growing their player numbers with ease.   

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