New Jersey and Pennsylvania AGs Against Wire Act Revision

Gurbir Grewal, New Jersey Attorney General and his Pennsylvania colleague, Josh Shapiro…

…attacked the US Department of Justice’s (DoJ) decision to revise the interpretation of the 1961 Federal Wire Act.

Both Attorney Generals said that they believe the department was under influence of anti-iGaming lobbyists and that they want some assurances from DoJ.

That is why they filed a Freedom of Information Act request and now they are waiting to determine if the shift of Department’s opinion was under the influence of Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling or a similar lobbying group.

Not a Wise Move

Grewal and Shapiro want to know for certain that the Department won’t launch enforcement actions against licensed iGaming operators in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

They wrote a letter to US Attorney General, Matthew Whittaker, and deputy Attorney General. Rod Rosenstein…

…where they expressed why they are so against the revised opinion.

“This about-face is wrong and raises significant concerns in our states,” the pair wrote in their statement.

“We ask that DOJ withdraw its opinion altogether or assure us that DOJ will not bring any enforcement actions against companies and individuals engaged in online gaming in our states—where it is appropriate under state law,” the Attorney Generals added.

Affecting iGaming Offerings

Both of them believe that this decision could potentially affect state lotteries and iGaming offerings. They also highlighted the positive impact that newly regulated gambling rules had in each state, especially money-wise.

“This decision puts jobs and livelihoods at risk for the thousands of people who work in the online gaming industry and jeopardises critical state funding for the public good that is generated by lottery sales and other internet activity that is legal within our states,” they Attorney Generals said in the statement.

Adelson’s Lobbyist?

Grewal said that there was not a single good reason for DoJ to reverse its opinion on the Wire Act all of a sudden…

…and that it is interesting how Sheldon Adelson’s lobbyists had used similar arguments in their opinions concerning the Wire Act revision.

“Nothing changed in the years since the Justice Department allowed online gaming to move forward, and there was no good reason for the Justice Department to rethink its prior decision,” Grewal explained.

“Instead, media reports make clear that pressure to reconsider the opinion came from out-of-state casinos and their lobbyists. That is not a good enough reason to reverse course and undermine the online gaming industry. We want to know who Justice Department officials spoke with, and why they decided to change their minds,” he added.

A Word from NJ Governor

New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy, says that iGaming is a key component in the state’s plan to replenish Atlantic City and improve its economy.

“This unexpected opinion from the U.S. Department of Justice not only jeopardizes the future of our casinos and gaming industry but also threatens the jobs of thousands of New Jerseyans,” Murphy said.

“I am pleased to see that Attorney General Grewal is committed to challenging the Justice Department’s unreasonable interpretation of the Wire Act,” he concluded.


“NJ and Penn Attorneys General wade into Wire Act debate”,, February 6, 2019.

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