As the US begins to come to terms with establishing a legal sports betting business, attention is turning increasingly to the Wire Act 1961 and the implications it holds for operators looking to enter the new market. Essentially, the Act prohibits bets and the transfer of gaming information between states.

But simple as that sounds, operators should be thinking now about learning how it could impact their business. That was the view expressed by several key figures during the course of the recent GiGse conference in Miami where betting’s great and good gathered to air their opinions and concerns about the most pressing challenges post-PASPA.

Among those to talk about the Act was Charles Cohen, vice president mobile, Playspot and North America sports betting at IGT. Responding to a panel question regarding federal law, he said: “There is a piece of federal legislation that is going to have an impact on how sports betting works out – and that’s the WIRE Act. I have to say it astonishes me, the level of ignorance. Particularly from people overseas coming into this market, that simply do not understand or refuse to believe what the WIRE Act actually means in terms of the way that we have to operate in this country.”

Urging delegates to gain a better understanding of the law, he added: “The WIRE Act is becoming more and more important and everybody needs to get proper advice on what they think it means because the way that you operate will be dramatically influenced by it.”

For the purposes of information, the WIRE Act is summarised as follows: Whoever being engaged in the business of betting or wagering knowingly uses a wire communication facility for the transmission in interstate or foreign commerce of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest, or for the transmission of a wire communication which entitles the recipient to receive money or credit as a result of bets or wagers, or for information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.