There is good news for poker players in the Garden State this morning. Pokerfuse is reporting that World Series of Poker (WSOP) management has confirmed that New Jersey players can play in some of the WSOP Online Events coming up in a few weeks.
Specifically, players can play the two online bracelet events that will occur prior to June 14. So, New Jersey players can play the $400 no-limit hold’em tournament on June 2 and the $600 pot-limit Omaha event on June 9.
Concerns about New Jersey player eligibility arose after the Department of Justice‘s recent opinion about the applicability of the Wire Act. In the January 2019 announcement, DOJ officials claimed that the Act applied not just to sports betting (as the previous opinion indicated), but also to all types of gambling.
The opinion placed the multi-state poker compact that exists between Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware into jeopardy. The compact allows the states to combine their player pools and increase the size of their markets.
At this point, the DOJ is figuring out its prosecutorial guidelines for the opinion. The government agency has set June 14 as its deadline to execute the implications of the new opinion.
The WSOP has stayed the course on online events
To be clear, the reason that WSOP players can play these events is that they occur BEFORE June 14. It remains unclear what will happen after that day comes to pass.
However, New Jersey players should take comfort in being able to play any WSOP online tournaments at all. Originally, the thinking was that there would be no New Jersey players in any of the tournaments at all.
Had the WSOP made such a decision, it would have been frustrating, but understandable. To that end, one might have forgiven the WSOP for backing away from offering online events at all. After all, giving away nine bracelets through nine intrastate tournaments would not be an optimal use of time or money.
To the WSOP’s credit, it has remained steadfast in its selection of events and its commitment to players. A press release announcing the inclusion of nine online events came exactly one month after the DOJ announcement, proof of where WSOP stood on the issue.
So, in a way, the latest announcement is not much of a surprise. The WSOP is clearly going to host as many people in its tournaments as possible.
Vive la resistance
The WSOP’s announcement is the latest pushback against the DOJ’s opinion. Though tournament officials won’t break the law, they will skirt right up to its edge.
Of course, the WSOP is not alone in clapping back against the government agency. More than a dozen states have pledged to fight the DOJ in court over the Wire Act opinion.
The problem surrounding the opinion continues to be its origin. Media reports have noted that the opinion both represents a complete reversal of course and closely mirrors lobbying materials from an anti-gambling group.
The group, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG), is strongly rumored to receive financial backing from Venetian owner Sheldon Adelson. So, the entire affair bears the stink of cronyism and political favoritism.
At present, the Department is defending itself against a rather strident suit filed by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission. The Commission has argued that the reversal, of course, both defies DOJ policy against such an action and materially hurt the Lottery and its associated vendors.
Things are beginning to get ugly. This week, a filing from the NHLC implored the court to end what it called the DOJ’s “charade.”
It remains to be seen if the DOJ is going to stop playing anytime soon.