In the weeks and months since the landmark decision by the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), much has been written, much has been speculated and many hopes for the immediate, and long term, futures have been raised.
One such example, which has seen a whole host of column inches dedicated to its discussion, is the role of the Wire Act, mentioned in brief by SCOTUS in its syllabus of Murphy v NCAA, and seeing many claiming it in fact reinterprets the act to permit interstate online sports betting.
However, penning his latest column for Forbes, Daniel Wallach is keen to stress that even with the invalidation of PASPA, the Wire Act does in fact stand as an obstacle for the permittance for punters placing sports wagers across state lines.
The clause in question, reads as full: “Under §3702(2) [PASPA], private conduct violates federal law only if it is permitted by state law. That strange rule is exactly the opposite of the general federal approach to gambling.
“Under 18 U. S. C. §1955 (Illegal Gambling Business Act), operating a gambling business violates federal law only if that conduct is illegal under state or local law. Similarly, 18 U. S. C. §1953 [Interstate Transportation of Wagering Paraphernalia Act], which criminalizes the interstate transmission of wagering paraphernalia, and 18 U. S. C. §1084 [Wire Act], which outlaws the interstate transmission of information that assists in the placing of a bet on a sporting event, apply only if the underlying gambling is illegal under state law. See also 18 U. S. C. §1952 [Travel Act] (making it illegal to travel in interstate commerce to further a gambling business that is illegal under applicable state law).”
The key part of this brief section of its synopsis is the word ‘information,’ with it believed that SCOTUS was simply referring to the Wire Act’s ‘safe-harbor’ provisions – and that the US’ highest court could, and perhaps should, have been clearer in its discussions.
Reiterating the illegality of individuals placing wagers over state lines, even when done so to and from states which both permit such activity, the need for an amendment to the Wire Act was stressed as key, in order to fully grow the new market and ensure that black market providers are stamped out.
SBC Americas analysis: With the Wire Act being mentioned in such a way by SCOTUS, you can understand why individuals would get carried away and perhaps over-analyse what it could potentially mean for the market. An amendment to the act does seem like the correct path of progression, especially to combat those black market providers whilst ensuring huge growth.