The highest legal authority for the state of New Jersey has reportedly filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) amid claims that casino magnate, Sheldon Adelson, may have exercised undue influence over the federal government’s recent decision to change in its stance concerning sections of the Interstate Wire Act of 1961.
According to a Tuesday report from The Press of Atlantic City newspaper, the Attorney General for New Jersey, Gurbir Grewal (pictured), filed the legal action with the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey after earlier lodging a Freedom of Information Act request with the DOJ.
Grewal had filed his official information appeal in February in hopes of gaining some insights into the lobbying efforts that surrounded the federal government’s decision to alter its position on the parts of the Interstate Wire Act of 1961 that deal with interstate iGaming activities. The 45-year-old Democrat was also keen to determine whether Adelson, who serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for giant American land-based casino operator, Las Vegas Sands Corporation, had played any role in this process.
However, Grewal reportedly detailed that he was forced to file his lawsuit (pdf) yesterday because he has not yet received any of the requested information or a response to explain the delay, which is well in excess of the DOJ’s own 20-day guideline for such applications.
In a statement from Grewal…
“Online gaming is an important part of New Jersey’s economy and the residents of New Jersey deserve to know why the DOJ is threatening to come after an industry we legalized years ago. It’s especially important that we figure out whether this federal crackdown is the result of a lobbying campaign by a single individual seeking to protect his personal business interests.”
The Press of Atlantic City reported that the November move by the DOJ altering its stance on sections of the Interstate Wire Act of 1961 had reversed a 2011 opinion from the same body that had largely legalized iGaming activities encompassing an interstate transaction.
iGaming in jeopardy:
New Jersey launched online gaming in 2013 and has since generated almost $153.23 million in taxes off aggregated revenues of over $2 billion. But, recent DOJ revisions, which are set to come into force June 14, are due to seriously hurt this budding sector by making it almost impossible for online casino and poker sites to operate across state lines or utilize shared liquidity from multiple jurisdictions.
Adelson is an ally and significant donor to the campaign of President Donald Trump and has long argued that expanding the online gambling industry will negatively impact his firm’s land-based casinos and lead to a rise in gambling addictions. He is purportedly furthermore known to have employed lobbyists to fight for measures that would protect his bricks-and-mortar gambling empire against the perceived iGaming threat.