DOJ Delay on Wire Act Prosecution Little Comfort to WSOP NJ Players

Bart Shirley March 11, 2019 1321 Reads

The Department of Justice (DOJ) officially delayed the deadline to enforce its new Wire Act opinion this past week. Unfortunately, the delay will do nothing for WSOP NJ players who might want to try for an online bracelet.

According to a memorandum sent by US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the government agency will now hold off on prosecution until June 14, 2019. In the memo, Rosenstein states that the delay is merely an internal move. It is not intended to allow lawbreakers to escape sanction.

The opinion has been nothing but trouble for the DOJ

However, it seems naive to take Rosenstein’s statement at face value. The delay will allow the DOJ two more months to figure out how it wants to proceed.

In the opinion, the DOJ reversed its position and claimed the Wire Act affects all online gambling and not just sports betting. Since then, the agency has found itself in a maelstrom of controversy. The opinion’s similarity to a Sheldon Adelson-backed lobbying group’s memo has led to numerous cries of corruption and cronyism.

The attorneys general of Pennsylvania and New Jersey have already sent Rosenstein a harshly-worded letter in opposition to the opinion shift. In the letter, they both refer to perception of exterior lobbying influence negatively. The letter also points out how the opinion represents a massive departure in DOJ procedure.

In fact, the Department of Justice’s own bylaws caution against the kind of paradigm shift that the opinion entailed. A lenient approach’s conversion into a strict one places companies in a bind. In many cases, they may have based their entire business model on the previous interpretation of law.

To that end, the New Hampshire Lottery has already filed suit against the DOJ over the opinion. The lottery seeks injunctive relief from the opinion, citing the lost funding for education programs as its rationale for its objection.

Unfortunately, this delay doesn’t help WSOP NJ players for the Series

Regardless of any current court filings, interstate gambling companies still have three months of peace to use. Presumably, they will all figure out ways to comply with the law. In some cases, they have been ordered to do so by their gaming commissions.

However, the delay won’t answer the biggest question on the minds of WSOP NJ poker players. Namely, they are wondering if they will be able to compete in the online bracelet events this summer.

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) has announced that it will host nine bracelet events for this year’s edition of the Series. Buy-ins for these events range from $400 to $3200. Like all WSOP events, their winners will cement their legacies into the list of excellent poker players.

So, it’s not hard to see why players from New Jersey might want to play in these events. However, if the DOJ opinion were to be enforced as stated, the interstate poker compact that allows for play across state lines would likely be invalid.

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WSOP NJ would become an intrastate provider, only. While it’s likely that the site would have some replacement events for the New Jersey base, it’s unlikely that these would still be canonical bracelet events.

New Jersey players would, therefore, win the equivalent of a terrible consolation prize. They would find themselves consigned to a fate where they must fly to Las Vegas to play in the big events – like everyone else in the country.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a Vegas poker trip. The atmosphere at the Rio is impossible to replicate.

However, one can’t blame New Jersey players if they were to be a bit miffed at these developments. Winning a World Series of Poker bracelet in one’s pajamas is very inviting concept.

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