If you’ve heard about new efforts this week to ban online gambling, you’re probably wondering what that means for your office March Madness pool. Your answer, if that’s the sort of thing you’re concerned about, should be: “What March Madness pool?”
You see, while online gambling was pretty much legalized on the federal level in a 2011 Justice Department decision, the ruling came with one exception: sports betting. DOJ’s legal counsel “has analyzed the scope of the Wire Act … and concluded that it is limited only to sports betting,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole wrote in December of that year.
So while the feds won’t crack down on online poker (at least for the moment), putting money on your bracket is technically illegal, in addition to being foolish (and definitely not something this reporter has wasted untold dollars on).
While Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Jason Chaffetz try to restore the Wire Act’s far-reaching online-gambling ban, other legislation adds to the confusion. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, passed in 2006, allows games of skill such as poker and fantasy sports (apparently predicting athletes’ statistics is a skill game, while predicting game outcomes is not).
Currently, three states — Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada — have sanctioned online gambling. That would plummet to zero if the Graham-Chaffetz bill goes through. At the other end of the spectrum, Rep. Peter King proposed a bill last year that would legalize and standardize online gambling.
In the meantime, the online gaming world remains a mixed bag of state regulations and little-understood, scarcely enforced federal laws. So even though the letter of the law says your March Madness wager could carry two years of prison time, you probably have nothing to worry about — except for that upset you never saw coming.
What We're Following See More »
"Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who wrote the explosive dossier alleging ties between Donald Trump and Russia," says in a new book by The Guardian's Luke Harding that "Trump's land and hotel deals with Russians needed to be examined. ... Steele did not go into further detail, Harding said, but seemed to be referring to a 2008 home sale to the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev. Richard Dearlove, who headed the UK foreign-intelligence unit MI6 between 1999 and 2004, said in April that Trump borrowed money from Russia for his business during the 2008 financial crisis."
"The British publicist who helped set up the fateful meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians at Trump Tower in June 2016 is ready to meet with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's office, according to several people familiar with the matter. Rob Goldstone has been living in Bangkok, Thailand, but has been communicating with Mueller's office through his lawyer, said a source close to Goldstone."
"Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak said on Wednesday that it would take him more than 20 minutes to name all of the Trump officials he's met with or spoken to on the phone. ... Kislyak made the remarks in a sprawling interview with Russia-1, a popular state-owned Russian television channel."