Despite recent DOJ opinion, states forge ahead with sports gambling

TAGs: Department of Justice, Michigan, sports betting, Virginia

At the same time that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued its opinion that the Wire Act covers all forms of online gambling, several states are still pushing forward with legislation to offer the billion-dollar industry to their residents. Among those looking to enter the sports gambling fray are Michigan, New Hampshire and Virginia.

Despite recent DOJ opinion, states forge ahead with sports gamblingMichigan residents received a shock last month when the state’s outgoing governor, Rick Snyder, pulled out a huge red “Rejected” stamp and vetoed an online gambling bill that had made it through Congress with virtually no resistance. While he argued that more research was needed on the subject before allowing legislation to move forward, many began to wonder if he didn’t deny the bill simply out of spite, or as a favor to someone in the gaming industry.

Not to be dismayed, the author of that bill, Representative Brandt Iden, is going to administer CPR on the legislation and bring it back to life, but adds that it will be even better. Iden told GamblingCompliance that he plans on reintroducing his bill and that it will not only offer online gaming, but sports gambling, as well.

In New Hampshire, a bill seeks to approve sports gambling in certain, dedicated retail outlets. House Bill (HB) 480-FN still needs approval by policy makers, but would authorize the state’s Lottery Commission “to conduct sports betting directly or through an authorized agent via the use of mobile internet devices and through physical sports book retail establishments.”

HB 480-FN isn’t expected to find much resistance among lawmakers. If everything goes well, it could be approved on or before July 1 and would allow for sports gambling facilities that are similar to those seen in the UK. They would be regulated by a new entity, the Division of Sports Wagering.

In Virginia, three bills are looking to cover the sports gambling industry. They address legalized sports wagers, licensed betting operations and taxes. All three stipulate that gambling would only be allowed on professional sporting events – college and youth sports wagers would remain outlawed.

One of the bills, Senate Bill 1238, was sponsored by Senator Chap Petersen. He asserts, “Sports gaming is going to be legal across the United States. There is no reason to keep it illegal, when our neighboring states are already moving to legalize.”

Petersen, and the rest of the lawmakers across the country who have been working diligently to draft legislation to introduce sports gambling, may have to step on the brakes. The DOJ has updated its 2011 opinion on the 1961 Wire Act to say that the Act covers not only online sports betting, but all types of online betting. This could create issues relating to how payments are handled and might throw a monkey wrench into states’ efforts to introduce online and sports gambling.


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