There was nothing “corrupt” about the recent about-turn on the Wire Act according to acting US Attorney General, Matthew Whitaker. Hauled before his peers on February 8 to testify about the Department of Justice (DOJ) and its opinion the Wire Act, Whitaker defended his position.
Speaking under oath, the man brought in to replace Jeff Sessions said he wasn’t a part of the process that saw the DOJ perform a 180. Explaining that he recused himself from discussions on the Wire Act, Whitaker rejected claims that he was corrupted.
“Your inferences on how that process was corrupted or corrupt is absolutely wrong. And the premise of your question I reject,” Whitaker said on February 8.
Learning from Past Mistakes
The testimony comes after Attorney Generals from New Jersey and Pennsylvania challenged the decision in a three-page letter. As noted, New Jersey’s Gurbir Grewal and Pennsylvania’s Josh Shapiro said the DOJ opinion would threaten jobs, tax revenue and more.
While Whitaker remained steadfast in his assertion he’d never met Sheldon Adelson let alone capitulated to his opinions, the pendulum appears to be moving in our favor. For those with memories of Black Friday in 2011 or UIGEA in 2006, the atmosphere today feels very different.
After the Moneymaker effect caused the online poker and gaming to boom in the early noughties, an air of invincibility cloaked the industry. As the billions rolled in and banknotes blinded everyone, legal pivots caused operators to lose their footing and fall from grace.
Despite looking up from the gutter, those who had lost everything were incredulous. Unwilling to admit that online gaming could be taken away within the blink of an eye, resistance was lacking. Today, however, affirmative action appears to be the order of the day.
Friends in High Places Are Willing to Fight
What’s important about this is that it’s not just industry operators and consumers pushing back. Already we’ve seen AGs in New Jersey in Pennsylvania question the motives of the DOJ. Joining the chorus of discontent in recent days is New Hampshire. Wanting to defend their online lottery, state officials have confirmed they’ll file a lawsuit against the DOJ if necessary.
According to UnionLeader.com, lottery executives say the new Wire Act interpretation will, at least, prohibit online ticket sales. Should that happen, it will cost the state up to $6 million in the first year and $8 million in 2020. With schools set to suffer, the state isn’t willing to rollover without a fight.
The important point here is that online betting and gaming now has friends in high places. Back in 2006 and 2011, officials were unaware of regulated gaming’s benefits. Of course, we’re not in a place where all states are openly embracing online gaming regulation. However, we’re certainly in a better position than we were. Because of this, the current fight against cronyism appears to be less one-sided.
Are we as an industry out of the woods? Almost certainly not. However, we can now see the woods for the trees. Put simply, there seems to be a greater willingness to protect what we’ve got. With battle scars on show, we’re marching into battle and readying ourselves for a fight. For that reason alone, we should be more confident that the whims of a billionaire won’t tear down the online gaming industry this time around.