New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S Grewal has filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), within the US District Court.
The suit concerns the failure of the DOJ to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) requests regarding lobbying efforts of Sheldon Adelson in relation to the recent Wire Act change by the federal government. Adelson, CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., is a strong opponent of online gambling.
No Response to FoIA Request
The DOJ released a new opinion of the 1961 Wire Act in January that suggests the law now applies to all forms of online gambling. The Act was updated in 2011 to apply only to sports betting. Now, the act seemingly applies to sports betting, casino games and the lottery. This has put several states online gambling industries at risk, including New Jersey.
After the DOJ made its opinion public, Grewal filed a FoIA request in February. The request asked for documents about the involvement of Adelson in the decision to change the Wire Act.
Adelson is close to President Donald Trump and a major donor within the Republican Party. He has fought online gaming from the very beginning, believing it to be a threat to his brick and mortar business.
Grewal never received the records he requested, nor did the DOJ respond as to why it had not provided the requested documents.
According to VSO News, at the same time that the request was made, Grewal and the Attorney General for Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro, wrote a letter to US Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. Their letter pointed out their opposition to the new opinion of the Wire Act, calling the opinion “deeply troubling”.
Grewal said: “Online gaming is an important part of New Jersey’s economy, and the residents of New Jersey deserve to know why the Justice Department 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.”
Grewal claims in his lawsuit that New Jersey requested an expedited response. This was due to the date in which the new Wire Act opinion will go into effect. June 14 is when the change becomes valid. In the suit, Grewal is seeking the FoIA request be fulfilled within a 20-day timeframe. This timeline is based on the DOJ’s own guidelines.
When the Wire Act opinion was first revealed, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission decided to file a lawsuit against the DOJ. Several states filed an amicus brief supporting the suit, including New Jersey.