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Wire Act Revelation Gives US Gamblers Hope


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In an ironic twist, the very legislation that has been used for years to justify
the prohibition of online gambling in the United States, the 1961 Wire Act, may
soon be used to legalise and regulate the popular internet activity in the not
too distant future, following a recent Wire Act revelation.

According to U.S. Assistant Attorney General Virginia A. Seitz, ‘interstate
transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a sporting event or
contest, fall outside the reach of the Wire Act.’ This means that while sports
betting is still a no go, in theory, online casinos, online poker rooms, online
bingo halls and online lotteries should be allowed in the U.S.

This comes after U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole published a letter last
Friday which said: ‘The Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has analyzed
the scope of the Wire Act, 18 U.S.c  § 1084, and concluded that it is limited
only to sports betting.’

Wire Act Used to Justify Online Gambling Crackdown

Traditionally, the US Department of Justice has used the 1961 Wire Act to
justify cracking down on all forms of interstate gambling. It has gone hand in
hand with the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which was
signed into law by then President George W. Bush, to prevent US banks, credit
card firms and other financial institutions from processing online gambling
related payments from U.S. citizens.

But now there is a growing consensus that if the parameters of the Wire Act are
found to be incorrect, the integrity of UIGEA will be compromised, which means
that online casino, online poker, online bingo and online lotteries could in
fact be perfectly legal in the United States, which could change the U.S. online
gambling landscape overnight.

It could also leave egg on the face of U.S. officials who have wielded the Wire
Act like a sword in their quest to eradicate online gambling in the United
States. In 2007, then U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway stated in front of
congress that the Wire Act applied to all internet gambling.

Revelation Could See Regulated Online Gambling in U.S.

‘The Department of Justice’s view is and has been for some time that all forms
of Internet gambling, including sports wagering, casino games and card games,
are illegal under federal law. While many of the federal statutes do not use the
term ‘Internet gambling,’ we believe that the statutory language is sufficient
to cover it,’ she said.

The bottom line is that the Wire Act revelation could
potentially allow states to cooperate together on online lottery and online
casino and poker initiatives, opening the way for a legalised and regulated U.S.
online gambling industry proponents of online gaming have been hoping and
pushing for years.

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