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US DOJ Says Wire Act Applies Only to Sports-Betting

Law, 2011-12-26, by Ozone

The poker world received an early Christmas gift on Friday from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). In a memo released in response to inquiries by New York and Illinois regarding the Wire Act's effect on the sales of online lottery tickets, the DOJ concluded that, "interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a 'sporting event of contest' fall outside the reach of the Wire Act."

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) applauded the ruling for providing needed clarification on whether online poker is in violation of the federal law which was passed in 1961.

The Wire Act made it a crime to use wire communications to assist "the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest". Online poker has long faced a legal struggle in the U.S. as to whether this law applies to wagers made in a card game over the Internet.

PPA director John Pappas said, "This will provide policy makers at both the state and federal level with the legal confidence to move forward with licensing and regulation of online poker and other non-sporting activity within their respective jurisdictions."

The DOJ was careful not to allow the memo to be a ruling with any connection to the UIGEA saying, "In light of that conclusion, we need not consider how to reconcile the Wire Act with UIGEA, because the Wire Act does not apply in this situation. Accordingly, we express no view about the proper interpretation or scope of UIGEA."

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