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US – New Jersey to fight ‘outrageous’ DoJ opinion on Wire Act

By - 22 January 2019

Former New Jersey Senator Raymond Lesniak, the man who led the state’s move to allow sports betting, will prepare a response for New Jersey regarding the US Department of Justice’s new opinion on how the Wire Act should be interpreted.

The new opinion suggests that the Wire Act prohibits wire transmissions of any interstate betting. New Jersey is to come out fighting though.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, said: “The new [DOJ] opinion threatens the significant boost enjoyed by New Jersey casinos, the jobs and state revenues from online gaming and it could have a negative impact on sports betting at our casinos and racetracks. We don’t want to lose the hard fought gains that are helping to revive Atlantic City and the state’s gaming industry.”

New Jersey’s online gaming generated $298m in revenue in 2018. Of the $1.2bn gambled on sporting events in 2018, $780m of the bets were made via online or mobile apps.

If I go online to gamble on my phone and my internet connection goes through a transmitter out of the state that can be considered a violation of the Wire Act. Same thing with payment processes.”

Mr. Lesniak said he will issue an opinion to the DOJ within the next month urging them to reverse course on its interpretation of the Wire Act. He also hinted at legal action.

“The damage done by the opinion is already occurring and we can’t wait to see if the Justice Department backs off from its opinion,” he said to NJBI. “I am urging the State, the Legislature and New Jersey’s casinos to file a lawsuit now and not wait the 90 days because the overhang of the proposed new Wire Act opinion is already damaging internet business investment and operations.”

He added to the Press of Atlantic City: “It looks like I will have to go to court again to straighten out the Justice Department’s overreaching on states’ rights, just as I did with sports betting. This opinion is outrageous. If Congress won’t fix it, I will through the judicial process.”

Caption: Former New Jersey Senator Raymond Lesniak

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