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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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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