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New Jersey Senate President Threatens Department Of Justice With Lawsuit Over New Wire Act Opinion

Former State Senator That Pushed For Interstate Gaming Compacts Would File Lawsuit If Necessary

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NJ Senate President Stephen SweeneyLawmakers in New Jersey are clearly not happy with the Department of Justice’s recent reversal of its interpretation of the Wire Act last month.

Less than two weeks after its Attorney General filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out if anti-online gaming casino mogul Sheldon Adelson helped influence a reversal, the New Jersey Senate President took things a step further.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) wrote a letter to the DOJ criticizing their new interpretation, stating that if the DOJ doesn’t reverse course, New Jersey will take the matter to court.

“If the OLC 2019 Wire Act Opinion is not rescinded, I have authorized former Senator Raymond Lesniak to file suit in U.S. District Court on behalf of the New Jersey Senate for a Delcaratory Judgement that the 2019 OLC Opinion is arbitrary and capricious and that the statutory problems of the Wire Act are uniformly limited to gambling on sporting events or contests,” Sweeney wrote in his letter.

The old Wire Act opinion only applied the law to sports betting. The DOJ’s reversal has broadened its stance to apply to all forms of online gaming.

New Jersey has positioned itself as one of the nation’s biggest markets for online gaming, which makes it one of the states with the most to lose. In January alone, online gaming operators generated $33.6 million in revenue, with the state taking a chunk of that in taxes.

New Jersey’s gaming compacts with other states, like the online poker compact with Delaware and Nevada, are in jeopardy under the new opinion. Lesniak, the former state Senator and attorney that Sweeney authorized to file his lawsuit, was one of the biggest proponents of the interstate compacts.

Lesniak pushed for compacts in part because it set New Jersey up to become a hotbed for online gaming. Lesniak has renewed his law license in the state in case he needs to take legal action.

MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren echoed Sweeney’s sentiments during a conference call earlier in the week#.

“It’s just we think, an absurdly poorly written and unenforceable opinion, and I don’t think anyone in the industry, the gaming industry, the sports betting industry, feels any differently,” said Murren.