MOORESTOWN —In response to the recent decision by the United States Department of Justice regarding sports betting, Senator Troy Singleton (D-Burlington) last week called on Governor Phil Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to take appropriate action to ensure that it does not hinder New Jersey’s sports wagering industry. The text of the letter is below:
January 16, 2019
Honorable Phil Murphy
Office of the Governor
PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625
Dear Governor Murphy,
I write to you regarding a matter of potential serious importance to the State of New Jersey. As you may be aware, in 2011 the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) issued an opinion concluding that the prohibitions of the United States Wire Act in 18 U.S.C1084(a) was limited to sports gambling. This guidance helped spark the rise of intrastate online gaming in our state which has proven to be a success by any standard.
Recently, the DOJ has issued a new opinion that now concludes that “the statutory prohibitions are not uniformly limited to gambling on sporting events or contests”. They further state that, “the other prohibitions apply to non-sports related betting or wagering that satisfy the other elements of section 1084(a). As a member of the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee, I am concerned that this new opinion could jeopardize the progress that New Jersey has made with respect to online gaming and negatively impact our state’s financial bottom line by impairing our ability to continue in this vane.
Furthermore, based on my reading of the history of the Wire Act, its intention was for it to only apply to sports betting. It was not designed to limit any state’s ability to decide whether or not to legalize any form of intrastate gambling. Also, decisions coming out of the First and Fifth Circuit Courts of Appeals have held that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting, so this new DOJ opinion leaves New Jersey and other states with no clear understanding on how to proceed. Additionally, a specific concern that we need to be mindful of is how this new action by the DOJ relates to the interstate poker compact that exists between Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey. I have enclosed a copy of the new DOJ guidance on this issue for your benefit.
Therefore, I am respectfully requesting that you utilize all of the tools of your office to ensure that our state’s interests are protected on this important matter. I am confident that under your leadership, and that of Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, you will do everything within your power to ensure that this does not hinder our state’s ability to grow in this industry sector. Thank you for your attention to this matter and please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance on this issue.
Hon. Troy Singleton
Senator, 7th Legislative District