The state of New Jersey approached the US Justice Department asking for confirmation that online gambling services are permitted under the provisions of federal law. This is an issue that local officials thought everything was pretty straightforward until some hurdles occurred at the time when the agency reversed course under President Donald Trump.
In 2011, under the administration of President Barack Obama, the Department of Justice ruled that gambling over the Internet was not suspended under the provisions of the federal Wire Act, New Jersey became one of the three US states where online gambling was allowed to be legally offered. This allowed the state to deal with the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic better than many other states across the country at the time when brick-and-mortar casino venues were forced to cease operations for months in 2020 because of the Covid-19 outbreak.
However, under President Trump’s administration, the Justice Department altered its position on the matter, and in January 2019 decided that the federal Wire Act actually outlawed such type of gambling services.
This is exactly why pushed officials of New Jersey and 26 other states to approach US Attorney General Merrick Garland, who was nominated by President Joe Biden, asking him to revoke the decision of President Trump’s administration and establish the original interpretation of the Wire Act given by the agency.
Online Gambling Revenue Was Crucial for New Jersey’s Economy in 2020
Gurbir Grewal, State Attorney General, said that the Department of Justice should straighten up the uncertainty surrounding this important national issue. He also highlighted the fact that it was exactly online gambling that provided financial support for many state services and programs last year, and without the online gaming revenue and tax money, these programs would have been lost in 2020.
According to the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, last year’s online gambling revenue in New Jersey more than doubled in 2020, reaching $970.3 million. A spokesperson for the American Gaming Association revealed that online gambling and sports betting services accounted for almost half of the gaming revenue of New Jersey in 2020 (46.2%).
According to Attorney general Grewal, gambling over the Internet has been and still remains an extremely important industry in the state of New Jersey and should be viewed as perfectly legal, as it was established by the Department of Justice in the first place.
At a confirmation hearing held in January 2017, the first attorney general of President Trump, Jeff Sessions, said that he would revisit the online gambling ruling of the agency. Two years later, the Justice Department came up with a new interpretation of the Wire Act.
The ruling had a positive impact on the largest donors of the Republican Party – Sheldon and Miriam Adelson – who, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, spent $78 million in 2016 and the mindblowing $215 million in 2020 on the party’s political campaigns. Late Mr. Adelson also supported the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, a lobbying group that was aimed at convincing Congress to ban online gambling as illegal. A piece of legislation that would have done so got a hearing in Congress but not a vote.