US Attorney General Pick Sessions May "Revisit" Online Gambling


One of the most important pieces of legalese that has come down in the United States for online gambling in the United States was a 2011 opinion about the Wire Act of 1961. The Wire Act was previously used as evidence that online gambling is illegal in the United States (and is the other major US law affecting online gambling from the UIGEA). In 2011, the Department of Justice released a legal opinion that it only applied to sports betting, which is clear to anyone reading the context and content of the law on an objective level (as we'll show below). Jeff Sessions, during his appointment hearing, mentioned that he may revisit that decision with careful study.

What is the Wire Act?

The 1961 Wire Act was a law passed that banned the usage of telephone lines for accepting sports bets. It was put in place to make it easier to go after organized crime outfits. It's very relevant to note that the Internet was decades away from being invented, and the first online casino wouldn't open for around 35 years. It's obvious to anyone reading the law or the context surrounding it that it wasn't meant to limit online gambling.

However, a court ruled at one point that it did apply to online gambling because of the bit about using telephone lines. To this end, it came down to whether or not it applied to all forms of gambling like online slots or just sports betting. It was generally assumed to only be sports betting, and the Department of Justice cleared that up with their 2011 opinion.

What Does This Mean for US Players?

For now, it doesn't mean a lot. There is regulated online gambling in three states already, and several have been investigating the possibility to opening up shop along similar lines. The new President Donald J. Trump has not been vocal at all about limiting online gambling, and his focus tends to be more along the lines of national security and economics. To this end, it doesn't make much sense to be too worried about it, but it's something that could come up in the future as an issue. Even if it does, we expect the states to fight it out in a long legal battle that we doubt the new administration will care for.


Steven Stradbrooke, Trump's AG Nominee "Would Revisit" Online Gambling Approval, January 10, 2017

By Jesse Eddleman