US Justice Department Gives Approval Of Online Casinos
A legal opinion handed down from the US Department of Justice has opened the door for professional US online poker players to get back to work in the near future. The legal opinion handed down from the Office of Legal Counsel asserts that the Wire Act of 1961 online covers online sports betting.
That opinion comes as a huge victory for players who have been left without jobs since April. The Justice Department, at the time, indicted three major International online poker sites. The indictments were issued for violating not the Wire Act, but instead, the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
The UIGEA makes it illegal for financial institutions to process online gambling transactions to, or from, online sites. Executives from PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker, were indicted for deceiving banks into believing that the transactions were for other businesses outside of online gambling.
In the months since the indictment, millions of online poker players in the US have been without their favorite hobby. The legal opinion, which was originally dated back in September, but was released on Monday, makes it clear that online poker is not considered to be a violation of the Wire Act.
The Counsel had to issue an opinion on the Wire Act after New York and Indiana posed legal questions regarding whether or not online lottery sales violated the federal law. The response, however, covered much more than just the lotteries.
“The ordinary meaning of the phrase ‘sporting event or contest’ does not encompass lotteries,” wrote assistant Attorney General Virginia Seitz. “Accordingly, we conclude that the proposed lotteries are not within the prohibitions of the Wire Act.”
It is unknown how quickly states will move to regulate online poker after the opinion was handed down. Nevada and Washington DC appear to be in position to be the first jurisdictions to authorize online poker, with laws already on the books legalizing the activity.
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has given his blessing to online gambling, with the stipulation that the state must be in compliance with federal laws.