New DOJ Opinion Paves Way to Legal Online Poker


On December 23, 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice revealed that it has reversed a long-held position by stating that the Wire Act applies only to sports betting. This marks a major change in policy for DOJ, which has long contended that the Wire Act prohibits all forms of Internet gambling, including poker.

Late that day, the DOJ released a 13-page legal opinion dated September 20, 2011, written by Assistant Attorney General Virginia Seitz in response to a 2009 request by New York’s lottery division and the Illinois governor’s office to analyze the application of the Wire Act to their plans to use the Internet and out-of-state processors to sell lottery tickets. The opinion noted that “nothing in the materials supplied by the Criminal Division suggests that the New York or Illinois lottery plans involve sports wagering, rather than garden variety lotteries. Accordingly, we conclude that the proposed lotteries are not within the prohibitions of the Wire Act.”

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