For many years, the interpretation of the Interstate Wire Act of 1961 has been a hot topic of debate, especially in the court room. The fight may finally be over and in favor of the gambler, as a Rhode Island District Court judge has ruled in favor of IGT in its lawsuit connected to the Act. The judge decided that the United States Department of Justice must formally say that the law only applies to sports betting.
Victory for Online Poker Gaming
The ruling was a big decision for online poker fans as the position is clarified which will hopefully pave the way for more gaming options in other states. IGT filed the lawsuit in November of last year against the Department of Justice to try and get the department to clarify the Wire Act and its official position on the matter.
The goal was to ensure that sports betting is the only activity that applies so that other options, like online poker gaming, could be offered without fear of prosecution by the DOJ. On September 15, District Judge William E. Smith ruled for IGT’s position, denying the motion by the DOJ to dismiss the case. The gambling company can now freely offer online services without worrying about any legal ramifications.
IGT decided to file a lawsuit against the DOJ after the case between the department and New Hampshire Lottery Commission came to an end. For that case, a judge in federal district court ruled against the interpretation of the Wire Act by the Trump DOJ. That opinion caused a stir as the department said at the time that all forms of gambling fell under the Act.
This of course was a reversal of the decision by the DOJ from 2011, one made when Barack Obama was President. The US District Court decided to uphold the ruling made by the Obama administration. After that ruling, the DOJ did not file an appear but refused to formally state that the 2018 opinion did not apply.
This caused stakeholders to fear offering certain services like online poker in case they would face prosecution on a federal level. In the recent ruling, Judge Smith said that the shift of positions by the DOJ over the years has created uncertainty for IGT’s business and needs to be clarified.
Smith stated further that the judgment in the case will serve to clarify and settle legal relations on the matter and provide significant relief from uncertainty, insecurity, and controversy surrounding the topic.