IGT Lawsuit Could Determine The Fate of Interstate US Online Poker

Updated On Feb 23, 2022 by Natalie Whitehead

IGT's legal case could impact legal US online pokerSummary

  • iGaming giant IGT wants the DOJ to clarify its stance on the Wire Act
  • The DOJ requested a 30-day extension which expires February 23
  • A settlement in the case would clear up remaining questions about US interstate online poker

Concerns about interstate online poker in the US could soon be cleared as a 30-day extension on a Wire Act court case lapses today, February 23. IGT, the largest iGaming and lottery services provider in the US, sued the Department of Justice (DOJ) back in November 2021 over the Wire Act dispute. The company is seeking assurance that the federal law won’t impact their non-sports betting business operations.

Conflicting Opinions

While IGT et al v. Garland et al isn’t precisely about online poker, a resolution on the case could decide the fate of interstate online poker in the country.

The case revolves around clashing opinions released by the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) during the Obama and Trump administrations.

In 2011, the DOJ under Obama declared that the Wire Act applied only to sports betting. That opinion reversed a decades-old policy that criminalized all forms of online gambling across state lines. It paved the way for the launch of online casino games, online lottery sales, and interstate online poker in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.

However, in 2018, during the Trump administration, the DOJ asserted that the Wire Act indeed covered all forms of interstate online gambling, not just sports wagering. In 2019, that opinion was rejected in court courtesy of a lawsuit filed by the New Hampshire Lottery. The First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling in January 2021.

Impact of IGT’s Case on Online Poker

The DOJ under Biden decided not to take the New Hampshire Lottery case to the Supreme Court, renewing hopes for interstate shared liquidity. The DOJ’s decision not to appeal the matter is also considered by gaming experts as a sign that the Biden administration could reinstate the 2011 opinion.

But the ruling applied to the plaintiff only, leaving other companies and operators still at risk of legal action.

IGT is seeking a “declaratory judgment” that the Wire Act applies only to sports betting, protecting its non-sports gaming operations from prosecution. With IGT’s case, questions and concerns surrounding interstate online poker would be cleared up once and for all. This means that a victory for the IGT is also a victory for the online poker industry.

If there is one topic that really gets Natalie excited it has to be the mathematics of gambling, having worked for a major gaming company in the audit department she loves nothing more than revealing all manner of facts and figures. Many of her news stories relate to both online and bricks and mortar gaming and are always worth...

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