Justice Department opinion could clear states to authorize online gambling

full-tilt-poker-ponzi-scheme-shutterstock

In an opinion dated in September but published just before the Christmas holiday (PDF), the U.S. Justice Department appears to be reversing almost half a century of policy on online and “wire” gambling, offering a new interpretation of law that may make it legal for states to authorize online gambling—and, if they do, the federal government would have to go along with it.

The opinion, which ostensibly only applies to proposals from New York and Illinois to use out-of-state transaction processors to sell in-state lottery tickets, finds that interstate wire communications that do not relate to a “sporting event or contest” fall outside the reach of 1961’s Wire Act, which barred wagers placed across state lines using telecommunications. Although initially written to target wire communications used in sports gambling—like off-track betting on horse races—the Wire Act has been the basis for the illegalization of online gambling in the United States, with the subsequent Unlawful Internet Gambling Act of 2006 used to pursue and prosecute operators of online poker sites. The upshot of the new opinion is that if individual states legalized intra-state games like poker—which Nevada and the District of Columbia have already done—the Wire Act could not be applied against the games’ operators.

“The ordinary meaning of the phrase ‘sporting event or contest’ does not encompass lotteries,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Virginia Seitz, in the opinion. “A statute enacted the same day as the Wire Act expressly distinguished sports betting from other forms of gambling, including lotteries.”

The apparent move towards a policy change may be about revenue: many states already operate lotteries as a way to finance education and other state programs. If Illinois’ and New York’s proposal to use of of state processors goes through, more states will likely consider offering online versions of their lotteries—and, if that flies, states may be tempted to give their coffers to boost by authorizing online gambling within their boundaries, even if the game operator is not located in the same state. Of course, states would be free to tax legal online gambling operations in any way they see fit.

Critics of online gaming have consistently cited the dangers of online gambling, including gambling addiction and exploitation by online casino operators. Just as with gambling in the real world, individuals with gambling problems often resort to theft, fraud, and even violence to feed their addiction. Studies have also linked online gambling to increased risks of emotional and health problems, including substance abuse, depression, risky sexual behavior, and circulatory diseases. Some studies have found online gamblers may be more prone to developing serious gambling problems than others.

The Isle of Man-based Global Betting and Gaming Consultancy estimated the online gaming business has grown to about $30 billion in 2011, an increase of nearly 12 percent from 2010.

[Image via whitewizzard/Shutterstock]

Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (November 2018)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in November, from 'The Witch’ to ‘Dracula’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Deals

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for November 2018

Looking to score Nintendo's latest hybrid console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals right here, including discounts on stand-alone consoles as well as bundles that feature games like Fortnite and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Gaming

Got an NES Classic? Here’s how to hack it to play more than 700 games

The NES Classic is terrific for what it is, but Nintendo's discontinued device remains limited in what it can play. Here's how to hack your miniature console and render it compatible with more than 700 games.
Gaming

‘Fallout 76’ day one patch is 52 GB, bigger than the 45 GB game

Fallout 76 is a 45 GB download, but its day one patch is even bigger at a hefty 52 GB. The contents of the patch remain unknown, but it will likely incorporate feedback from the game's beta testers.
Gaming

Fired Treyarch tester spills ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Zombies’ secrets

A former Treyarch employee revealed numerous Call of Duty: Blacks Ops 4 Zombies secrets. Among the unraveled mysteries were the Viking Boat puzzle in IX and the purpose of the Engine Room valves in Voyage of Despair.
Mobile

Get your gaming on the go with this list of the 25 best Android games

The Google Play Store is loaded with both terrific and terrible gaming titles. We vetted the store to bring you some of the best Android games available, whether you're into puzzles, shooters, racing games, or something else.
Gaming

Sony could be working on a screen-equipped PlayStation controller

A patent recently granted to Sony seems to point to the company creating a controller with a touchscreen. The patent was filed in 2017 and granted in October 2018, which could mean it is planned for the next PlayStation.
Gaming

Xbox gaming chief has sights set on improving Microsoft Store experience

Xbox chief Phil Spencer acknowledged that the Microsoft Store still has a ways to go to become a solid platform for PC gamers. Microsoft promised to work toward improving the frequently buggy experience with gamers in mind.
Gaming

The plug-and-play PC Classic joins the retro console bandwagon

Gaming company Unit-e is creating the PC Classic, a plug-and-play retro console that will come bundled with around 30 of the best DOS games. The system will support gamepads and keyboard setups.
Gaming

Everyone’s favorite Pokémon turns gumshoe in ‘Detective Pikachu’ trailer

The first Detective Pikachu trailer has arrived, and it looks like a video game movie could actually be good? Voiced by Ryan Reynolds, Pikachu is undeniably cute in what is shaping up to be a family-friendly buddy comedy.
Gaming

Here are the best Black Friday deals you can get for Xbox One, PS4, and Switch

If you're in the market for a new video game console, there's no better time to pick one up than Black Friday. These are the best video game console deals for Black Friday 2018, including PS4, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch.