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AG Grewal Letter to Trump Administration: New Opinion Regarding Online Gambling Is “Wrong” and “Deeply Troubling” – AG Grewal Also Files Freedom of Information Act Request Seeking Information on Whether Lobbyists Spurred Department of Justice’s Decision to Reinterpret Wire Act

State of New Jersey, Office of Attorney General

TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today wrote the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) expressing New Jersey’s objection to a recently-issued legal opinion that federal criminal law could apply to the state-sanctioned online gambling that has taken place for years in New Jersey and across the U.S.

Joining Attorney General Grewal in registering “strong opposition” to the new opinion was Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Almost a decade ago, DOJ found that most forms of online gaming were legal because federal criminal law only applied to sports wagering. Following that opinion, online lotteries and other forms of online gaming sprouted up in states across the country. On January 24, 2019, however, the Justice Department issued an opinion explicitly reversing course and announcing that online gaming could violate federal law.

In a letter today to Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, Attorney General Grewal characterizes DOJ’s new opinion as an unfounded “about face” with potentially devastating economic consequences for families and businesses in New Jersey.

Online gaming in New Jersey, the letter notes, “generates $352.7 million in annual revenue and $60 million in direct gaming taxes—key both to New Jersey and to Atlantic City’s vitality.”

”Our growing online gaming industry is a key component in revitalizing Atlantic City and strengthening New Jersey’s economy,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “This unexpected opinion from the U.S. Department of Justice not only jeopardizes the future of our casinos and gaming industry, but also threatens the jobs of thousands of New Jerseyans. I am pleased to see that Attorney General Grewal is committed to challenging the Justice Department’s unreasonable interpretation of the Wire Act.”
 “The Justice Department’s latest action is wrong on the law and wrong for New Jersey,” said Attorney General Grewal. “For five years, our gaming industry and our regulators have relied on the Justice Department’s promises to develop a strong online gaming industry that generates hundreds of millions of dollars, and is key to Atlantic City’s vitality. With the stroke of a pen, the Justice Department is trying to take that all away. I’m committed to standing up for New Jersey and challenging this misguided opinion.”

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