Lesniak Urges NJ to File Suit Against DOJ Now re: Sports Betting Opinion

Written by:
Gilbert Horowitz
Published on:
Jan/22/2019
  • States offering online gambling now have 90 days to comply with new DOJ decision

  • If I go online to gamble on my phone [and] my internet connection goes through a transmitter out of the state, that can be considered a violation of the Wire Act,” Ray Lesniak told NJBIZ

  • Lesniak plans to fight DOJ in court


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Former state Sen. Ray Lesniak, who played a heavy hand in a U.S. Supreme Court case knocking down the near-nationwide ban on sports betting, says he would like to see New Jersey file a lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department to reverse course on an opinion that now lumps all forms of Web gambling into a Wire Act once specific only to sports betting.

Specifically, the Wire Act prevents bets to be placed from one state and accepted in another.

The DOJ is giving states like New Jersey, which now pools online poker with a handful of other states, 90 days in which to comply.

“If I go online to gamble on my phone [and] my internet connection goes through a transmitter out of the state, that can be considered a violation of the Wire Act,” Lesniak told NJBIZ. “Same thing with payment processes.”

Likewise, payouts on winnings to non-residents who gambled for real money while visiting the Garden State may now now enter a grey area.

Online gambling sites in states like New Jersey also rely heavily on payment processors that are not necessarily based inside the state proper.

"The new [DOJ] opinion threatens the significant boost enjoyed by New Jersey casinos, the jobs and state revenues from online gaming and it could have a negative impact on sports betting at our casinos and racetracks,” Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, said in a Monday statement.

“We don’t want to lose the hard fought gains that are helping to revive Atlantic City and the state’s gaming industry,” Sweeney added.

Lesniak said he plans to issue an opinion to the DOJ within the next month.

“It looks like I will have to go to court again to straighten out the Justice Department’s overreaching on states’ rights, just as I did with sports betting,” said Lesniak. “This opinion is outrageous. If Congress won’t fix it, I will through the judicial process.”

“I am urging the State, the Legislature and New Jersey’s casinos to file a lawsuit now and not wait the 90 days because the overhang of the proposed new Wire Act opinion is already damaging internet business investment and operations,” Lesniak told NJBIZ.

- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com

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