Federal court case about Wire Act looms over interstate poker

WSOP: NJ Online Poker Players Can Compete For Bracelets Despite Wire Act Worries

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Despite the looming threat of the Department of Justice’s enforcement of the Wire Act, NJ online poker players will still get the opportunity to compete in some of World Series of Poker online bracelet events.

The WSOP recently confirmed that online bracelet events that are scheduled to run before the DOJ enforcement deadline on June 14, would be “available to players in New Jersey.”

There was some concern that NJ players would be cut off entirely from interstate poker.

WSOP online bracelet events

The WSOP will be offering nine online bracelet events this year starting on June 2.

At least for now, WSOP NJ poker players will be able to participate in the first two online events.

  • June 2 – $400 no-limit hold’em tournament
  • June 9 – $600 pot-limit Omaha event

Events scheduled after that are still up in the air, while a court case about the scope of the Wire Act in federal court is ongoing. There will be an online bracelet event every Saturday for seven weeks until the end of the WSOP which begins May 28 and runs till July 16.

Buy-ins for online events will range from $400 to $3,200 with several different formats including:

  • Knockout
  • 6-max PLO
  • Turbo event
  • Double stack tournament

Last year, the $1,000 buy-in Online Championship event generated the biggest US-regulated online poker prize pool in tournament history. That prize was of over $1.55 million.

Looming DOJ threat from Wire Act

The DOJ began the year by reversing its 2011 opinion on the federal Wire Act, saying the 1961 law prohibits all forms of interstate gambling, not just sports betting.

The opinion by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in 2011 led to the creation of the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association (MSIGA), an online poker shared player pool between Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada.

The DOJ gave operators 90 days to comply with the new interpretation or risk prosecution. The deadline was extended an additional 60 days to June 14.

Since the MSIGA deals heavily with interstate gaming, it potentially put the WSOP in the crosshairs of DOJ enforcement.

Legal efforts have slowly been building as several states including New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan have banded together asking the DOJ to withdraw its most recent opinion.

The New Hampshire Lottery has been leading the crusade against the DOJ arguing that the reversal could put the lottery and its associated vendors in jeopardy.

For now, the 50th anniversary of the WSOP will proceed as planned with online players in New Jersey being able to compete.

- Nick comes from West Texas where he graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in psychology. After a five year stint in Chicago where he wrote about local politics and graduated with a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia College Chicago, he moved to Washington, D.C. to write about issues related to gambling policy, sports betting and responsible gaming.
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