Biden says DOJ’s Wire Act changes add ‘unnecessary restrictions’ to the gaming industry

Biden says DOJ’s Wire Act changes add ‘unnecessary restrictions’ to the gaming industry

  • Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports
December 16, 2019 11:00 AM
  • Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden opposes a Department of Justice opinion from earlier this year on the Federal Wire Act that would revert the 1961 law to its original language and could wipe out seven years of gaming technology advancements.

In a statement provided to CDC Gaming Reports by the Biden campaign, the former vice president “doesn’t support adding unnecessary restrictions to the gaming industry like the Trump Administration has done.”

The Wire Act reinterpretation opinion by Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which was revealed in January, is on hold after New Hampshire filed a federal lawsuit to block the action. The state feared any changes could eliminate the state’s online lottery,

Biden said the Wire Act should be interpreted under the Justice Department’s 2011 ruling, which limited restrictions to sports betting and allowed states to legalize and regulate online gaming. Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania are the only states currently operating online gaming activities, such as casino games and poker.

The Biden campaign also provided a brief comment concerning a proposed bill backed by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-NY, and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, that would establish federal guidelines for sports wagering.

Joe Biden autographs a Culinary Union member’s shirt/Photo by Howard Stutz

While not coming out in opposition to the measure, Biden said he “believes states and federal authorities should cooperate to ensure that gambling is safe, fair, and corruption-free.”

Biden addressed members of Culinary Workers Local 226 in Las Vegas last week. The union is Nevada’s largest and represents some 60,000 non-gaming employees in hotel-casinos on the Strip and in downtown. Union members asked questions on healthcare and immigration reform but shied away from gaming specific questions.

In a statement from the campaign, Biden called gaming and tourism “huge drivers of Nevada’s economy and support more than 360,000 jobs.” Biden said the current administration’s “effort to turn its back on the international community” has “resulted in recent drops in international travel to the United States.”

The 2019 Wire Act revisions said the law covers any action where gaming information is transmitted over the Internet.

Gaming law experts and analysts said the new ruling could curtail states’ online gambling activities, the sale of lottery tickets over the Internet – such as the nationwide Powerball game – wide-area progressive slot machine networks such as Megabucks, and, potentially, mobile sports wagering.

A federal judge in New Hampshire set aside the Wire Act opinion. The judge’s ruling was appealed the First Circuit Court by the Justice Department, which halted any enforcement of the new ruling back in April.

Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.