DoJ Reverses Position on Scope of Wire Wager Act

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On December 23, 2011, the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (the “OLC”) released an opinion that the Wire Wager Act (18 U.S.C. § 1084) applies only to interstate transmissions of wire communications that relate to sports wagering. This opinion reversed the Department’s long-held view that the Act could prohibit other forms of interstate gambling such as poker and other card games. Prepared in response to a request by the Department’s Criminal Division regarding the legality of state-sponsored plans to sell lottery tickets on the Internet, the opinion represents a significant shift in the Department’s policies with regard to iGaming. Nevertheless, a cautious interpretation of this reversal is warranted.

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