In yet another display of lack of clear strategical thinking, the DOJ is trying to buy itself time to meet the piling number of legislation against its latest Wire Act Opinion.
The U.S. Department of Justice has published a new memo regarding its latest Opinion concerning the Wire Act of 1961. In it, the Department says that it would defer enactment of the re-interpreted Wire Act Opinion until 2020 or until after 60 days a verdict in the New Hampshire case is reached, whichever comes first.
The decision comes right after DOJ suffered a defeat at the hands of a NH District Court Judge who ruled that the new Wire Act Opinion was ill-defined and put the otherwise legal running of iLotteries under threat of legal repercussions. In light of the decision, DOJ lawmakers have yet again deferred the enactment of the Opinion which was supposed to arrive on July 15.
The latest changes suggest that we won’t see the Wire Act until December 31, 2019 or 60 days after a NH decision has been reached. Here is what the official memo, released on June 12, stated:
“On June 3, 2019, a federal district court in New Hampshire issued an opinion holding, inter alia, that Section 1084(a) applies exclusively to sports gambling. The Department is evaluating its options in response to this opinion. Accordingly, the forbearance period announced in the Deputy Attorney General’s February 28 memorandum is hereby extended from June 14, 2019 to December 31, 2019 or 60 days after entry of final judgment in the New Hampshire litigation, whichever is later.”
The memo was signed off by Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen who has been put actively on the Wire Act case.
While DOJ has appeared very indecisive about the implementation of the Wire Act statures, the Department is only bidding its time. Faced with mountains of opposition, the WA will need to be enforced without much wiggle room for states prepared to challenge it – this may now include half the country.
Recent developments haven’t been particularly optimistic, after NH “defeated” attempts by the DOJ to veto any legislation against the Wire Act and set a ground-breaking precedent. However, despite the temporary success, no online operator is exempt from litigation against it.
If the Wire Act arrives and is enforced in its current form, multiple businesses and their owners would be indicted as criminals who have abetted various financial crimes and face what could be decades in prison.
The most recent (active) interpretation of the Wire Act dates to 2011 when several states, New York included, wanted to expand the reach of their iLotteries and argued that the original Wire Act of 1961 applied only to sports betting.
At the time,the DOJ sided with the states and allowed lotteries to transfer data across state borders. In October, 2018 a new Opinion was floated which basically sought to renege on the 2011 agreement. Announced in January, 2019, this Opinion was signed into a law with an initial 90-day grace period which was supposed to enact the legislation in April.
Then, the DOJ postponed the enactment until July, and as per the latest developments, the new Wire Act Opinion won’t be imposed until the above criteria are met.
Post time: Jun-25-2019