Sports betting and the Wire Act in Pennsylvania

News on 19 Jan 2019

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) published its first monthly report for Sports Wagering (December 2018) this week detailing the full month returns from Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course and partial month returns from SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia and Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh which both started sports wagering operations on December 15, 2018.

Total wagers reached $16,173,090, total gross gaming revenue was $2,006,546 and the State collected $722,356 in taxes.

In related news, the PGCB warned yet-to-launch online licensees to take heed of the new opinion on the Wire Act delivered by the Department of Justice earlier this week.

The PGCB clarified its position on the DOJ’s new opinion saying:

“The Opinion does not, however, negate the premise that “intrastate” activity as provided for by State law is permitted.  Thus with any forms of internet or mobile gambling, it appears that diligence in assuring that the transmission of bets and wagers, payments and credits as a result of bets or wagers, as well as the information assisting in placing those bets and wagers [subject to § 1084(b)], does not cross state lines is paramount.

“As Pennsylvania continues to implement the General Assembly’s gaming expansion legislation, Act 42 of 2017, and as you, as certificate holders and operators licensed by the Board, continue to move forward to expand your gaming offerings, it is vital that you examine your proposed gaming operation in Pennsylvania to ensure that you are in compliance with the Department of Justice’s interpretation of the Wire Act.”

The PGCB goes on to emphasise key aspects that may be affected by the new Opinion including the  location of equipment which it says should now be located in Pennsylvania.

Licensees are now required to examine their prior submissions which may be impacted by the “entirely intrastate” requirement and provide the PGCB with an updated narrative on how they will structure their operations and payment service arrangements to assure compliance with the Opinion.

The PGCB expects updated plans to be submitted by licensees within the next 30 days.

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