- Congress Committee targets Wire Act Opinion
- DOJ won’t be able to enforce the re-interpreted Wire Act
- Opposition against the Department Mounting
Congress has taken interest in fighting the newly-proposed Wire Act Opinion which could lead to suspension of gaming activities across states.
Congress to Block DOJ Attempts to Enforce Wire Act Opinion
Congress has responded to a call to arms, which will put the U.S. legislative body against the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the latest decision to expand the scope of the Wire Act through a new Opinion signed by the Department in January, 2019.
The Rules Committee has filed an amendment that will effectively seek to cut off any funding for the enforcement of the Wire Act in its re-interpreted version. A broad support has been formed to back the amendment with the sponsor Rep. Hank Johnson joined by other noteworthy lawmakers, including Rep. Sanford Bishop and Rep. Andy Barr.
Given the recent developments surrounding the DOJ, the opposition mounting against the Office of Legal Counsel has grown significantly. The Committee now challenging the decision is also in charge of paying the Department’s salaries, which gives it a strong bargaining chip.
DOJ Should Back Off
Congress is not in the habit of beating around the bush and the recent move is just an example of that. Here is what the document states in the opening section:
“None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to enforce the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel memorandum entitled ‘Reconsidering Whether the Wire Act Applies to Non-Sports Gambling’ (issued on November 2, 2018).”
Put simply, DOJ won’t get any funding to enforce the act and with the current climate which has multiple states, including Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire, opposing the move to some extent, and an ensuing court battle would definitely put DOJ on the ropes financially.
One of the biggest mistakes that the Department has allowed is not to create a clear exemption for lotteries. In the case against New Hampshire, the DOJ lost in a district court in the state.
Just recently, the Department tried to reconsider its position and said that it would not enforce the decision until an agreement between the DOJ and NH’s State Lottery has been reached, but that agreement could come no later than December 31, 2019.
In light of the Congress decision, these plans are now completely scuppered and the DOJ will most likely have to sound a retreat.
Beating the Wire Act Once, Beating the Wire Act Twice
After the drubbing that DOJ suffered in NH when Judge Paul Barbadoro described the Department’s Opinion as too ambiguous, the Department’s attorneys tried to change tact, saying that no lottery would ever have to worry about being criminalized.
However, the exact phrasing of the document targets cross-border data transfers, which is precisely what iLotteries do. The New Hampshire lawsuit against the DOJ has been backed by a number of states, including the state of Michigan which joined it as amici.
The stance of Congress could be the last nail in the DOJ’s project to snuff out the gaming industry.