The state of New Jersey has filed a federal lawsuit over a Freedom of Information Act Request that the U.S. Department of Justice has failed to respond to. The lawsuit is a response to the lack of cooperation on behalf of the Department of Justice to hand over documents that link a recent crackdown on legal online gambling to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
- New Jersey files an official lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice.
- Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is in the focus of the issue.
- The Wire Act reinterpretation continues to threaten New Jersey’s online gambling industry.
Details of the Lawsuit
The lawsuit is known as the State of NJ vs. U.S. Department of Justice. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal claims that the Department of Justice would be violating the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to share records of any communication between them and Adelson pertaining to the issue of the Wire Act.
The whole situation has come just when the online gambling market was experiencing its booming development. In precise numbers, Grewal has pointed out to the $353 million in annual revenue and $60 million in state taxes brought into the state budget by this industry alone. He continued to outline its importance with this statement:
The residents of New Jersey deserve to know why the Justice Department is threatening to come after the industry we legalized years ago. It’s especially important that we figure out whether the federal crackdown is the result of a lobbying campaign by a single individual seeking to protect his personal business interests.
Gurbir S. Grewal
Latest Wire Act Developments
Over 50 years since its enforcement, the 1961 Wire Act is still stirring up trouble in the grand scheme of online gambling. The US has long had trouble regulating the industry, and once they officially began legalizing the practice in particular states, the Wire Act’s official interpretation cut them short.
The first interpretation claimed the Wire Act prohibited interstate online gambling activities only in regards to sports betting. However, due to so far foggy reasons, the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel found it fitting to refute this interpretation just before the year’s end, on November 2nd.
Wire Act Re-Interpretation
The new DOJ Wire Act opinion aims to ban all forms of online gambling between states, thus putting an end to the poker player liquidity pool shared between New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. Their otherwise small poker network sustains itself on this shared practice, which is directly under threat should the new opinion remain the same until it takes effect on June 14.
Where Does Sheldon Adelson Fit Into all of This?
There have been serious speculations about the Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson’s involvement in the sudden reversal of the wire act opinion.
Most allegations suggest that Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, as well as his fervent attempts to hurdle the process could have led him to resort to other means.
While nothing has been officially confirmed, Adelson’s close ties with top government officials are more than evident. He is friends with the President, Donald Trump, who awarded the highest honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Adelson’s wife just last year. The casino magnate is further known to have been a big GOP donor, particularly in Trump’s presidential campaigns both in 2016 and 2018.
Funds from the Las Vegas Sands have also been traced to separate legal firms, such as the $30,000 paid to Lincoln Policy Group. Firm founder and a two-term Democratic Senator from Arkansas, Blanche Lincoln disclosed lobbies made in Congress on the online gambling matter. Another $80,000 was traced to a different firm that also admitted to lobbying Congress, but not the Justice Department.
While suspicions remain that there is more than meets the eye, the New Jersey Attorney General is obliged to follow the letter and procedures of the law. Still, even if they do win the lawsuit against the Department of Justice, the Freedom of Information Act might still not be honored.