Well it seems that even the DOJ can get into the holiday spirit as they gave the online gambling arena a rather nice gift on Christmas Eve in their decision to redefine precisely what type of gambling is prohibited by the 1961 Wire Act. The previous and long standing position of the DOJ regarding the Wire Act was that it prohibited all types of online gambling, including online poker. They have recently changed that position, and have determined that the Wire Act only prohibits online sports betting. If you had a quiet moment on Christmas Eve, you may have heard the delighted online gambling enthusiasts expressing their excitement, bringing the United States one step closer to legalized online gambling laws on a federal level.
After analyzing the Wire Act, particularly its scope, the OLC (Office of Legal Counsel) for the DOJ announced that the law is limited to sports betting alone. General James Cole, the US Deputy Attorney put this in writing in December. The OLC went on to say that the criminal division was in error on their interpretation of the Wire Act. A letter was sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The OCL did also say that the criminal department of the DOJ can go after gambling businesses that violate any state laws regarding online gambling, hence the new position on the Wire Act will not negate other areas of the criminal code.
The federal laws surrounding online gambling in the United States have been controversial and confusing. While the current UIGEA law specifically targets banks and credit card companies and not players, it has still caused a great deal of confusion, and has scared quite a few online gambling brands out of the USA online casinos market. This new clarification regarding online gambling prohibitions should help bring some credence to other online gambling venues, such as online poker, casino, and bingo gaming. It is unclear how this new determination by the DOJ will affect USA online gambling in the immediate future, but it seems to be a clear step forward for USA online gambling.