DOJ hits pause, not stop, on Wire Act enforcement


Officials at the US Department of Justice (DOJ) are delaying enforcement of the revised Wire Act of 1961 until December 31, 2019. That’s the official word that came down in the form of a very sparse memo from Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen that was issued yesterday.
Rosen’s memo appears to be a direct response to a recent ruling by US District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro in a Wire Act-related case brought by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission. In that ruling, Judge Barbadoro basically struck down the DOJ’s Wire Act revision argument by saying that it could be applied to interstate lotteries, even if DOJ says it won’t.
In the memo, Rosen tells DOJ attorneys to hold off on enforcing the new opinion until the end of the year, or until there’s an outcome in the New Hampshire case. Rosen is careful to point out that the new opinion does create a safe harbor, so you might want to hold off on any interstate lotteries you might have been planning.
The back and forth messages, along with the delays in enforcement, that are coming from the DOJ reflect the sloppy and chaotic nature of the department’s sudden backpedaling on the issue of interstate gambling. To the layman, the new standard appears to be nothing more than a gift to casino magnate, and arch-online gambling foe, Sheldon Adelson. Not coincidentally, Adelson pumped millions of dollars into GOP re-election funds in the election that took place one day before the Wire Act revisions were announced.
Expect to see a lot more legal action on this matter before it’s decided for good.