Sports betting executives criticise Wire Act reinterpretation at conference

Panellists at a sports betting conference held by the American Gaming Association (AGA) have criticised the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) reinterpretation of the Federal Wire Act.

Earlier this year, the DoJ issued a new opinion that the Wire Act prohibits interstate wagers and betting-related wired communications across all gaming, not just sports betting.

Unsurprisingly, however, speakers representing the gaming sector were widely critical of the reinterpretation at last week’s Sports Betting Executive Summit.

George Rover, Managing Partner at Princeton Global Strategies and former Deputy Director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, was frank in his analysis.

He said: "It reads like there was someone sitting in a law library who was given instructions to write an opinion that would have the wrong result."

Meanwhile, Larry Breuer, Vice Chairman of Covington & Burlington, commented: "They spent pages and pages in a discussion of grammar. This could have a very real impact on online lotteries and everything that launched after the (2011) opinion."

However, the DoJ has remained firm in the face of recent opposition, last week seeking dismissal of a lawsuit filed against it by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission.

In its filing, the DoJ said: "The heart of claim, in this case, is not that the government is threatening to do something to violate constitutional rights; but rather they disagree with the government about whether a federal criminal statute applies to certain commercial wagering activity."