The Washington-based conservative action group Judicial Watch announced Wednesday that it has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking documents regarding the Department of Justice’s 2011 ruling that the Wire Act of 1961 and other laws prohibiting online gambling, such as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, only prohibit wagers on sporting events or contests.
The 2011 decision is widely perceived to have liberated some aspects of the contentious online gambling issue in the United States.
Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on October 27, 2014, seeking:
“Any and all records concerning, regarding, or related to the December 23, 2011 ruling to legalize non-sports betting over the internet, including but not limited to any records on the legal basis for the ruling under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.”
The Justice Department was required to provide a response to Judicial Watch by February 18, 2015, but failed to do so, triggering the current lawsuit.
Judicial Watch alleges in its complaint that:
“As of the date of this complaint, July 15, the Justice Department has failed to determine whether to comply with the FOIA request; notify Judicial Watch of any such determination; advise Judicial Watch of the right to appeal any adverse determination; produce the requested records or otherwise demonstrate that the requested records are exempt from production.”
The action groups alleges that the DoJ changed decades of policy and reinterpreted key parts of the Wire Act at the request of two states—Illinois and New York—seeking to sell lottery tickets online.
In its legal opinion, the Justice Department found that the Wire Act only prohibited wagers on sporting events or contests, lifting a long-standing federal ban on Internet bets placed on non-sporting events.
The Judicial Watch appears to have an anti-online gambling agenda, and was founded by Larry Klayman, a Republican-leaning attorney who also launched the since discontinued Freedom’s Watch, a body reportedly funded by land casino mogul and anti-online gambling crusader Sheldon Adelson.
The publication Slate.com claims that Adelson is supportive of the Judicial Watch initiative as an element in his strategy to drive the Restoration of America’s Wire Act through Congress and effectively ban much of the online gambling activity in the United States.