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Wire Act: What is it? 2023

The Wire Act: What is that & how does it Affect My Online Casino?

What is the Wire Act and how does it affect my online casino? In the gaming sector, the Wire Act 1961 is confusing and controversial.

The 2011–2019 DOJ interpretations of the Act have contributed to this misunderstanding. How do these interpretations affect online intra-state poker?

What does this mean for sports and internet betting laws? Online interstate poker: illegal? Interpretations: How will state lotteries operate? queries.

This page answers the above topic and several more on the Wire Act and internet gambling in detail. First, we’ll discuss the Wire Act’s origins and purpose. Wire Act highlights

  • The Wire Act singles out sportsbooks and betting operator
  • The DOJ’s opinion carries no force of law and is non-binding until they are enforced
  • No US Federal law makes online betting expressly illegal

Table of Content: What You Will Learn

  1. Wire Act 1961 Overview
  2. Interpretations of the Wire Act 1961
  3. How does the 2018 Interpretation Affect Online Gambling?
  4. How Can 2018 Interpretation be overridden?
  5. The 2018 Interpretation, Online Gambling, and Financial Transactions Options
  6. Offshore Gambling
  7. Want more Relevant information?
  8. Conclusion

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Wire Act 1961 Overview

President Robert Kennedy signed the 1961 Interstate Wire Act. He and President John Kennedy fought organised crime together as Attorney General.

The Wire Act always targeted payment processing services and banks participating in remote gaming. Despite popular belief, the Wire Act does not affect individual players. The Wire Act also banned all forms of gambling cheating.

These restrictions made it illegal to telephone bet results to players before they were published. Casino games were not the issue, hence the law solely specified sporting contests and events. The Wire Act later applied to online casinos, poker rooms, and other gambling businesses.

The 2006 Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) strengthened the Wire Act. This internet-related law targeted online gaming operators. By prohibiting payment processors from processing online gambling firm payments, the government effectively outlawed online gambling.

Many operators that have since returned to the US legally left the country and stopped serving American players. Others claimed that since they operated offshore, they could do as they pleased and not be penalised by American authorities. UIGEA does not ban internet gaming.

Interpretations of the Wire Act 1961

The Department of Justice ruled in 2001 that the Federal Wire Act 1961 covers all online betting, not only sports betting. The Act simply mentioned “interstate sports betting” therefore the DOJ’s position was surprising.

Many legal luminaries, especially non-federal ones, disagreed with this approach. President George Bush oversaw this. The US Department of Justice issued a legal opinion on the Wire Act’s scope in September 2011.

The ruling holds that “interstate transmission of wire communications that do not relate to a sporting event or contest fall outside the Wire Act”. This ruling outlawed solely sports betting, overturning the 2001 interpretation. Casino and poker games are exempt from the Act, according to this DOJ opinion.

Delaware, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and New Jersey created online gambling marketplaces after the 2011 interpretation. This led to a shared liquidity agreement between New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada, allowing its online poker players to compete.

State laws taxed and controlled poker and casino games to keep mobs out of gaming. In January 2019, the new official opinion was created on November 2, 2018. This latest ruling on the Interstate Wire Act prohibits all online casino gambling and sports betting.

The US Department of Justice granted gambling businesses 90 days to comply with the 2018 opinion. The newest US Department of Justice judgement contradicts the US Court of Appeal ruling. This judgement allows states that cannot offer online sports betting to offer other forms of online gaming and betting.

However, the US Supreme Court has not officially interpreted the Wire Act. On February 15, 2019, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission filed a formal complaint with the US District Court to overturn the DOJ judgement, claiming that their annual returns will be severely decreased.

On June 3, 2019, this complaint received summary judgement. The judgement overturned the DOJ’s opinion and limited the Federal Wire Act to sports betting. The DOJ said it was examining his opinion.

How does the 2018 Interpretation Affect Online Gambling?

The 2018 interpretation has thrown the betting market into frenzy as significant participants wait for further explanation. Online gambling, including lotteries and casinos, will be unlawful if the Department of Justice follows the 2018 interpretation.

Sports betting is illegal. However, DOJ opinions are non-binding, therefore their application is unpredictable. The 2011 interpretation allowed Delaware, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and New Jersey to launch online gaming marketplaces. This led to a shared liquidity agreement between New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada, allowing its online poker players to compete.

State laws taxed and controlled poker and casino games to keep mobs out of gaming. New Hampshire, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky, and Georgia offer mega-million tickets online. Murphy v. NCAA boosted the betting business.

The ruling legalised US sports betting. If the Department of Justice’s 2018 ruling is enforced, the US gaming and gambling industry’s tremendous rise after 2011 will collapse.

How Can 2018 Interpretation be overridden?

Lobby Congress to repeal the Department of Justice opinion and clarify the Wire Act. Sports betting laws are advancing. Requesting an injunction to overturn the opinion is another option. If the interpretation is implemented, Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey may sue the federal government to terminate their shared liquidity agreement. However, just because the Department of Justice declares all gaming illegal does not imply it will be enforced.

The 2018 Interpretation, Online Gambling, and Financial Transactions Options

The effect of the latest interpretation on online gambling and financial transactions is adverse. Many payment processors and banks have stopped all dealings with the gambling market. These payment processors decline cards used for betting transactions even in states like New Jersey and Nevada, where online gambling is legal and the online gambling industry is booming.

The payment processors are careful because gambling transactions constitutes a little fragment of their operations, and the risk also outweighs the revenue.

Offshore Gambling

Due to recent uncertainties in the US gambling market, many United State citizens and residents have turned their attentions to offshore gaming and gambling. There are still reputable and trustworthy betting sites that accept wagers from US residents. To deposit money on these sites, you need an efficient money transfer service and an international credit card.

States with legal Online Casinos

Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia


The Wire Act 1961 is also known as the Interstate Wire Act or the Federal Wire Act. It was passed into law to curb organized crime and prohibit some forms of betting operation in the US. The betting business affected by this Act is the sports betting industry.

But the recent interpretation of the Act by the Department of Justice has thrown the gambling industry into a massive frenzy. What we have done in this article is to address all the questions you might have concerning the Wire Act. Do not also forget to check our sports comparison page.

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