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DOJ’s Wire Act Reversal Disregards Existence of Effective State Regulation

January 27, 2019, The Nevada Independent

2018 was a big year for gaming – the Supreme Court delivered a huge win for state sovereignty, gaming operators, consumers and the sports leagues. Today, legal sports betting exists in 10 states and the District of Columbia, including Nevada. However, an unusual reversal of opinion from the Department of Justice (DOJ) has the potential to hamstring proven models of intrastate wagering.

Last week—nearly a month into the federal government shutdown—the DOJ issued a reinterpretation of The Interstate Wire Act of 1961, essentially reversing the department’s own 2011 opinion.

The Wire Act was intended to address organized criminal gambling activities nationwide, making it illegal to use wire communication for any interstate or foreign commerce of bets or wagers. In 2011, the DOJ clarified its interpretation of the Wire Act, making it clear that the law applied only to sports betting. Subsequently, several states passed laws allowing for online or mobile gaming and set up effective regulatory structures. Just last year, the Supreme Court struck down a 1992 law that banned sports betting, and a flood of states have created their own legal sports betting markets, most of which include intrastate mobile wagering like we enjoy here in Nevada.  To read the entire article click here.


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In 2024, McDonald Carano celebrates 75 years of serving Nevada’s legal, business, government, and civic communities. More than 60 lawyers and government relations professionals serve state, national, and international clients from our offices in Reno, Las Vegas, and Carson City. McDonald Carano provides legal services and government affairs and advocacy counsel to startups, corporations, trade associations, nonprofits, public entities, high-net-worth individuals, investors, and public-private partnerships throughout Nevada. We are proud to be your Nevada law firm since 1949.

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