Wire Act Case Settled, Opens Path to Larger Interstate Pools

The Wire Act legal case in the US is finally resolved after no appeal was filed by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) by the deadline date, June 21, 2021.

Clarity Regarding the Future of Online Poker

The decision to not pursue “Supreme Court review of the First Circuit’s decision” by the DOJ leaves in force the ruling issued in January 2021 by the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit that the scope of the 1961 Wire Act is limited to sports betting.

The ruling comes after the New Hampshire Lottery Commission (NHLC) launched litigation against an attempt by the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel to re-interpret a previous decision dating back 2011. Essentially, DOJ tried to suspend the 2011 ruling and argue that the transmission of data for gambling purposes over the Internet should apply to all forms of gambling.

The ruling removes the last barrier for regulators in several states which have already introduced legal online poker and seek shared liquidity. Michigan and Pennsylvania are two of those states. As a result, brands and states can enter into agreements for interstate liquidity and share their pools of poker players, essentially allowing for more shared pools to emerge by the end of the year.

Shared player pools will result into more players playing at the same limit on cash games, boosting liquidity on the poker tables, as well as larger prize pools for online tournaments, which will in turn attract better cash and tournament players some of which currently play on illegal offshore websites.

On the other side, the higher interest in online poker from players will intensify competition among operators which will have to beef up their marketing efforts and offer better promotions to the players.

Potential Online Poker Network Expansions

888poker network, the only operator currently running an interstate online poker network after a Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) signed by Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey, seems to be in the best position to capitalize by further expanding its shared pool.

The home of WSOP NJ, WSOP NV, 888poker NJ, and 3 racino poker skins in Delaware will seek to expand its interstate network by adding Pennsylvania and Michigan. According to 888 Holdings’ SVP and Head of US Yaniv Sherman, 888’s partner WSOP is planning launches in both states this summer, pending certification of their systems from third-party labs contracted by state gaming regulators.

PokerStars, despite currently not operating an online poker network, already has a presence in both Pennsylvania and Michigan, as well as in New Jersey, and could eventually form the biggest US poker network. The only setback could be Nevada where PokerStars is currently not allowed to operate.

BetMGM, a third candidate to launch interstate online poker network, has already presence in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan, and made steps to establish operations in Nevada after Entain received an interactive gaming license extension in the state last month.

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