Just How Illegal Is Your March Madness Bracket?

Would a proposed online-gambling ban make your office pool a crime?

Your biggest bracket fear should be upsets, not jail time.
National Journal
Alex Brown
Add to Briefcase
Alex Brown
March 20, 2014, 8:42 a.m.

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 »
AND POLICE OFFICERS IN EVERY SCHOOL
Gov. Scott Wants to Raise Gun-Purchase Age to 21
1 days ago
THE LATEST
IN THE WAKE OF NEW CHARGES
Gates Expected to Plead Guilty, Cooperate with Mueller
1 days ago
THE LATEST

Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is expected to plead guilty to a raft of new tax and fraud charges filed against him by special counsel Robert Mueller on Thursday. Gates is expected to cooperate with Mueller's investigation.

Source:
32 COUNTS
Mueller Hits Manafort, Gates with New Charges
2 days ago
THE LATEST

Robert Mueller announced new charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort advisor Rick Gates. "The new indictment contains 32 counts, including tax charges." The pair had been indicted on 12 charges in October. Since then, Gates's attorneys have asked to be excused from the case.

Source:
SECOND TIME FBI FAILED TO ACT
FBI Failed To Act On Parkland Shooter Tip
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

The FBI has reported that it failed to respond to a warning from "a person close to" Nikolas Cruz, the teen accused of killing 17 people at Parkland High School on Thursday. "It was the second time the FBI apparently failed to follow up on Cruz." On the first occasion, it failed to properly investigate Cruz after it was reported to them that he left the following comment on a Youtube video: "Im going to be a school shooter."

Source:
FBI MISSED TIP ON PARKLAND SHOOTER
Florida Governor Calls on FBI Director to Resign
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

Florida Governor Rick Scott called on FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign following revelations that the FBI had failed to adequately investigate multiple warnings about Parkland High School gunman Nikolas Cruz. “The FBI’s failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable,'" said Scott. '...We constantly promote ‘see something, say something,’ and a courageous person did just that to the FBI. And the FBI failed to act.'" According to an FBI statement, the FBI failed to inform local offices of information regarding "Cruz's desire to kill people, erratic behavior, disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login