|Other short titles||Interstate Anti-Crime Act|
|Long title||An Act to amend chapter 50 of title 18, United States Code, with respect to the transmission of bets, wagers, and related information.|
|Nicknames||Interstate Wire Act of 1961|
|Enacted by||the 87th United States Congress|
|Effective||September 13, 1961|
|Statutes at Large||75 Stat.491|
|Titles amended||18 U.S.C.: Crimes and Criminal Procedure|
|U.S.C. sections amended||18 U.S.C.ch. 50 § 1081 et seq.|
May 14, 2018 Now that there is no longer a federal law against sports gambling, each state is free to pass laws that govern where people will be able to bet on sports and how. May 14, 2018 The Supreme Court cleared the way on Monday for states to legalize sports betting, striking down a 1992 federal law that had prohibited most states from authorizing sports betting.
The Interstate Wire Act of 1961, often called the Federal Wire Act, is a United States federal law prohibiting the operation of certain types of betting businesses in the United States. It begins with the text:
Whoever being engaged in the business of betting or wagering knowingly uses a wire communication facility for the transmission in interstate or foreign commerce of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest, or for the transmission of a wire communication which entitles the recipient to receive money or credit as a result of bets or wagers, or for information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
In September 2011, the US Department of Justice released to the public a formal legal opinion on the scope of the Act concluding, 'interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a 'sporting event or contest' fall outside the reach of the Wire Act.'
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A new Department of Justice opinion dated November 2, 2018 reversed the 2011 opinion, declaring that the Wire Act’s prohibitions are “not uniformly limited to gambling on sporting events or contests.”
The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Wire Act prohibition on the transmission of wagers applies only to sports betting and not other types of online gambling. The Supreme Court has not ruled on the meaning of the Federal Wire Act as it pertains to online gambling. In an opinion issued November 2018 and published January 2019, the Department of Justice stated that the Federal Wire Act applies to all gambling and not just sports betting.
On January 15, 2019, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that the Department of Justice would delay enforcement of the 2018 OLC opinion for 90 days to “give businesses that relied on the 2011 OLC opinion time to bring their operations into compliance with federal law.'
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On February 15, 2019, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission filed a complaint in the US District Court for New Hampshire, naming the Department of Justice and Attorney General William Barr as defendants. The suit asks the Court to vacate and set aside the OLC’s new opinion, which the Commission claims will reduce its annual profits by millions of dollars. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said the state wasn’t interested in negotiating an out-of-court settlement, “we’re looking to win.”
On June 3, 2019, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro issued a summary judgment that the Wire Act “is limited to sports gambling” and set aside the 2018 OLC opinion. A Department of Justice spokesperson said the government was reviewing the decision. On August 16, 2019, the Department of Justice filed notice of its intention to appeal Barbadoro’s ruling to the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals.
—Robert F. Kennedy discussing how the Wire Act would affect organized crime
After being selected to become US Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy suggested to the 87th United States Congress to pass legislation which would make interstate gambling illegal. Kennedy's goal of the legislation was to help the United States Justice Department stop organized crime from trafficking. One of the eight bills given to Congress was Senate Bill 1656—The Wire Act.
The Interstate Anti-Crime Acts were signed by the 35th President of the United StatesJohn F. Kennedy on September 13, 1961.