The battle over the US government’s controversial interpretation of the 1961 Wire Act, which effectively blocks online cross-state casino gambling, took a new turn on Monday when the Attorney General of the state of New Jersey filed a brief opposing the government.
Gurbir Grewal filed the amicus brief with an appeal court, responding to a decision by the Department Of Justice (DOJ) to appeal a New Hampshire Court decision on the Wire Act. That decision had struck down the DOJ’s interpretation of the Wire Act, which was released in January 2019.
The DOJ had stated that the Wire Act applied to all forms of gambling, rather than just sports betting, which had been the conclusion of a 2011 ruling on the Act. The New Hampshire Lottery Commission launched a legal challenge, and were successful in June last year, but in August, the DOJ said that it would be launching an appeal.
In response, New Jersey, which led the fight to legalise sports betting, have filed their brief, and, according to Grewal, the stakes could not be higher as a successful appeal by the DOJ could end the fast growing igaming industry in New Jersey:
“Lawful online gaming is both effectively regulated in New Jersey and vital to the economic well-being of Atlantic City and our state. DoJ was right to promise in 2011 that online gaming was perfectly legal, and New Jersey staked a significant part of its economic future to that promise.”
The brief alleges that the DOJ’s interpretation of the Wire Act, if confirmed, would represent a significant threat to the economy of New Jersey. It has been estimated that the regulated online gambling industry in the state has created over 3,300 jobs and has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue.