A positive week for sports betting on several fronts. New Jersey and Pennsylvania’s Attorney Generals taken a stand against the DOJ’s new interpretation of the Wire Act; new legislation to legalize sports betting continues to proliferate and new sportsbooks are opening.
First that pesky Wire Act opinion.
Pennsylvania and New Jersey ask DOJ to withdraw Wire Act opinion
The letter that Pennsylvania and New Jersey’s attorney generals sent to the DOJ pulls no punches. Some choice excerpts:
“We ask that DOJ withdraw its opinion altogether or assure us that DOJ will not bring any enforcement actions against companies and individuals engaged in online gaming in our states—where it is appropriate under state law.”
Translation: We don’t care what you think of the law, don’t try to enforce it here!
“We can see no good reason for DOJ’s sudden reversal.”
Translation: You’re not following the law, you’re following your own agenda.
“Press reports instead indicate that this new advice followed substantial lobbying by outside groups that have long been unhappy with the 2011 opinion—but who were unable to convince Congress of the merits of their view. That is not a good enough reason to trample over the law and states’ rights, and to upend the settled expectations on which we have been relying for nearly a decade.”
Translation: This isn’t a legal opinion, it’s a political opinion paid for by one of the Republican party’s biggest donors. Although, acting US Attorney General Matthew Whitaker denied ever meeting Adelson when testifying to the House Judiciary Committee last Friday.
The press reports referred to suggest that Sands casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has pulled strings to get the opinion reversed. The text of the opinion borrows directly from a letter sent to the DOJ by Adelson’s anti-online gambling organisation.
Big news from last week, but could be even bigger news next week as we wait for a DOJ reponse.
CG Technology brings Nevada brand to New Jersey
Each casino license holder in New Jersey is allowed three online spots betting partners. The Meadowlands racetrack now has a full slate after partnering with CG Technology.
CG Technology launched the first ever mobile sportsbook in the US when it launched in Nevada, in October 2011. It now plans to bring its mobile and online sportsbook to New Jersey.
Meadowland’s other partners are FanDuel and Australian operator PointsBet.
Ohio on track to pass sports betting legislation this year
Ohio Senator John Eklund has a sports betting bill filed for this year. Senate Bill S316 would also allow mobile sports betting.
The bill’s chances of success are high partly because there is bipartisan support. Eklund’s bill is co-sponsored by Democratic Senator Sean O’Brien and State Representative Dan Greenspan has filed a partner bill in the House.
The bill is empty of real detail. It’s what is known as a placeholder, so now the negotiations begin to decide exactly what text will make it through committee and to a vote in both legislative chambers.
And what to look for this week
Any movement on the Wire Act opinion will be significant. The DOJ has to make a public response to the Pennsylvania/New Jersey AG letter. It’s also entirely possible that someone gets the first lawsuit off the ground.
Lottery operators are as much annoyed as sports betting states. The new opinion would end the MegaMillions and its like, so first move may be from a state lottery. It’s worth remembering that the reason the DOJ issued its first Wire Act opinion in 2011 was because state lotteries wanted to know if they could offer online lottery tickets.