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Democrat Presidential Candidates Oppose Provisions of 1961 Wire

December 19, 2019

After the US Supreme Court ruled in May of 2018 that the nation's ban against sports betting was unconstitutional, it looked like smooth sailing for US gambling industry. The industry was primed to start working with any and all state legislators that were looking to legalize sports betting for it residents.

As everything was falling in place in states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, the US Department of Justice made a stunning announcement. The announcement, which came in late 2018, gave clear indication that the DOJ intended to interpret the Wire Act of 1961 to mean that wires could not be used to fund any form of online gambling account. The sudden change of heart came after the prior administration's DOJ issued a statement in 2011 that they interpreted the law to be applicable to sports betting only.

Earlier this year, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission took the DOJ to court over its ruling. This summer, a New Hampshire federal judge sided with the New Hampshire Lottery and overturned the DOJ's ruling. Since that time, there's been an uneasiness in the gambling industry in anticipation of the DOJ potentially appealing the decision.

If former Vice President Joe Biden and entrepreneur Andrew Yang, both current Democrat candidates for President, were to win the election in 2020, both have indicated they would be in support of a more open environment for US gamblers. In Biden's case, he stated he “doesn’t support adding unnecessary restrictions to the gaming industry like the Trump Administration has done.” By all indications, he would be happy to stick with the DOJ's original 2011 interpretation.

In Yang's case, it appears he would be willing to go the extra mile and seek a total repeal of the Wire Act. This seems more in line with the nation's growing attitude that maybe it's time to open things up for adults who want to gamble as long as safeguards are put in place to protect minors and vulnerable problem gamblers.

With the next election cycle just getting underway, it's not clear if gambling legislation of any kind will be getting much focus from candidates running at both the federal and state levels. What is clear is most states have or will be legalizing sports and online gambling for its residents. If that proves true, it doesn't make sense that gamblers could use wires and credit cards to fund gambling accounts for any form of gambling but sports betting. Something would need to be done.


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