The Obama administration just paved the road for per-state legalization of Internet poker and other online gambling activities, a move that might help the government collect additional billions in tax revenue. The Justice Department's decision, which was reached in September and announced last Friday, rewound the clock and basically de-criminalized something that has been a crime since decades ago.
The Justice Department was previously decided in saying that online gambling was illegal because of the Wire Act, passed in 1961. The act illegalizes any wagers made via telecom lines, whether crossing state or national borders.
A new interpretation of the Wire Act by the Office of Legal Counsel implies that this act should only apply to bets on sporting events or contests. That means that states can still allow people to use the Internet to sell lottery tickets to anyone, excepting minors, within or outside its judicial borders.
"The United States Department of Justice has given the online gaming community a big, big present," said I. Nelson Rose, a gaming law expert at Whittier Law School. Nelson Rose provides the government and the gaming industry with legal counsel.
However, the Justice Department's decision will also get rid of "almost every federal anti-gambling law that could apply to gaming that is legal under state laws," as mentioned by Rose on his blog.
States that legalized intra-state poker games and the like, such as Nevada and DC, have a problem particularly because federal laws wouldn't apply against operators of the gambling sites, according to Rose. The Justice Department's take on this says that the legislative history of the law implied that Congress' desire to override current laws was influenced by the desire to put a lid on wired sports gambling.
Miguel Leiva-Gomez is a professional writer with experience in computer sciences, technology, and gadgets. He has written for multiple technology and travel outlets and owns his own tech blog called The Tech Guy, where he writes educational, informative, and sometimes comedic articles for an audience that is less versed in technology.
Edited by Rich Steeves