Federal Wire Act

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Federal Wire Act
Great Seal of the United States
Other short titles Interstate Anti-Crime Act
Long title An Act to amend chapter 50 of title 18, United States Code, with respect to the transmission of bets, wagers, and related information.
Nicknames Interstate Wire Act of 1961
Enacted by the 87th United States Congress
Effective September 13, 1961
Citations
Public Law 87-216
Statutes at Large 75 Stat. 491
Codification
Titles amended 18 U.S.C.: Crimes and Criminal Procedure
U.S.C. sections amended 18 U.S.C. ch. 50 § 1081 et seq.
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the Senate as S. 1656
  • Signed into law by President John F. Kennedy on September 13, 1961

The Interstate Wire Act of 1961, often called the Federal Wire Act, is a United States federal law prohibiting the operation of certain types of betting businesses in the United States. It begins with the text:

Whoever being engaged in the business of betting or wagering knowingly uses a wire communication facility for the transmission in interstate or foreign commerce of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest, or for the transmission of a wire communication which entitles the recipient to receive money or credit as a result of bets or wagers, or for information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.[1]

In September 2011, the US Department of Justice released to the public a formal legal opinion on the scope of the Act concluding, "interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a 'sporting event or contest' fall outside the reach of the Wire Act."[2]

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Wire Act prohibition on the transmission of wagers applies only to sports betting and not other types of online gambling.[3] The Supreme Court has not ruled on the meaning of the Federal Wire Act as it pertains to online gambling.

Background[edit]

It is quite evident that modern, organized, commercial gambling operations are so completely intertwined with the Nation's communications systems that denial of their use to the gambling fraternity would be a mortal blow to their operations

Robert F. Kennedy discussing how the Wire Act would affect organized crime[4]

After being selected to become US Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy suggested to the 87th United States Congress to pass legislation which would make interstate gambling illegal. Kennedy's goal of the legislation was to help the United States Justice Department stop organized crime from trafficking.[5] One of the eight bills given to Congress was Senate Bill 1656—The Wire Act.

Signing[edit]

The Interstate Anti-Crime Acts were signed by the 35th President of the United States John F. Kennedy on September 13, 1961.[6][7][8][9]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Schwartz, David (September 2010). "Not Undertaking the Almost-Impossible Task: The 1961 Wire Act's Development, Initial Applications, and Ultimate Purpose". Gaming Law Review and Economics 14 (7): 533–540. doi:10.1089/glre.2010.14708. 

External links[edit]