What Does the DOJ Ruling Really Mean ?

Last December the US department of justice issues a ruling on the antiquated wire act of 1961. The act has been used for former administrations to prosecute online gaming operations. The ruling said that intrastate internet gambling was legal and that only sports betting online is illegal under the wire act. What effect could this ruling have for online bingo players in the United States? Currently online bingo players in the US face a number of obstacles. The unlawful internet gambling enforcement act of 2006 prohibits credit card companies, banks and payment processors from handling any gambling related transactions. At the present time this is the chief obstacle faced by players in the US. Federal prosecutors have even gone so far as to set up fake payment processors to help them bring charges against several online gaming operators.

Most online gaming operators say that the December ruling will result in eventual legalization of online bingo at the federal level. Currently individual states may set up their own online gaming operations and offer services to residents. Undoubtedly this will create a confusing hodge podge of rules and regulations that will vary from state to state. Several gaming groups say that legalization on the federal level will provide operators with a clear set of guidelines and laws that will be easier to follow.

John Pappas of the Poker Player’s Alliance welcomed the ruling and told reporters “This is a much needed clarification of an antiquated and often confusing law. For years, legal scholars and even the courts have debated whether the Wire Act applies to non-sporting activity. Today’s announcement validates the fact that Internet poker does not violate this law. This will provide policy makers at both the state and federal level with the legal confidence to move forward with licensing and regulation of online poker and other non-sporting activity within their respective jurisdictions,” added Pappas. “However, it is our hope that our federal policy makers see this as an incentive to move quickly to enact federal licensing and regulation before various states produce a mix of individual state schemes that may not be the best model to serve consumers.”

The American Gaming Association weighed in on the issue and had this to say The Department of Justice’s interpretation regarding the scope of the federal Wire Act validates the urgent need for federal legislation to curb what will now be a proliferation of domestic and foreign, unlicensed and unregulated gaming websites without consistent regulatory standards and safeguards against fraud, underage gambling and money laundering.” As can be seen most industry groups say that federal legislation is the best way to ensure that players are protected. It is possible that online bingo players may have legal online games sooner than expected.

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