Research Brief: Reversal of the 2011 Wire Act Memo
Late in the afternoon of January 14, 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) issued a new
memo reversing its stance on the Interstate Wire Act of 1961 (“Wire Act”). This 23-page memo
issued by the DOJ’s Office of the Legal Counsel (“OLC”) dated November 2, 2018, stressed that
all forms of gaming apply to the Wire Act. It reversed an earlier DOJ memo issued in 2011 that
stated that the Wire Act only applied to sports betting.
The action, which at best can be described as reversing a reversal, raises several concerns for the
gaming industry, especially for online gaming that occurs in the states of Nevada, New Jersey,
and Delaware, with active startups underway in Pennsylvania. The decision also may have
serious implications for mobile gaming, sports betting, daily fantasy sports (“DFS”), lottery, and
potentially even internet/social media marketing programs. Global Market Advisors (“GMA”)
had predicted for some time that the reversal of the 2011 Memo would occur during the Trump
Administration through the efforts of the Committee to Stop Internet Gaming (“CSIG”).