DOJ Opinion Leaves Industry Hanging: If UIGEA Exclusions Don’t Modify the Wire Act What Does That Mean for Intrastate Gambling Transactions?

The recently released Department of Justice (“DOJ”) opinion (“DOJ Opinion”) concluding that the Wire Act prohibits both sports and non-sports related Internet betting and wagering, leaves the industry with the burning question of “what about intrastate Internet gambling?”  On its face, the Wire Act prohibits using 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 such wagers, for information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers.  In its analysis the DOJ Opinion applies the modifier of interstate or foreign commerce to all four prohibited types of transmissions. Continue Reading

DOJ Wire Act Update – 90 Day Window for Compliance

This is a follow up to our recent blog post regarding the DOJ Opinion on its interpretation of the Wire Act. In a memo dated January 15, 2019, the Deputy Attorney General declared:

Department of Justice attorneys should adhere to the Office of Legal Counsel’s (OLC) interpretation, which represents the Department’s position on the meaning of the Wire Act. See 28 C.F.R. § 0.25. Continue Reading

DOJ Does High “Wire Act” – Flip Flops on Legality of Online Gambling

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued an opinion (DOJ Opinion) that reverses its 2011 Memo, in which it opined that the prohibitions of the Wire Act are limited to sports betting. In the DOJ Opinion, the DOJ has concluded that the 2011 opinion was wrong! It now opines that only one of four parts of the Wire Act apply to sports betting, while the other three apply to any online betting. It also concludes that the 2006 enactment of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) did not alter the scope of the Wire Act.

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Challenges in Filing Successful IPR Petitions for Video Game Patents

Video game patents being asserted in litigation are frequently challenged by defendants at the Patent Trial and Appeals Board by filing a petition requesting inter partes review (IPR), post-grant review (PGR), or (less frequently) covered business method review (CBM). Gaming companies need to be cautious in preparing these petitions as the PTAB continues to increase its scrutiny of petitions and is showing a reluctance to “fill in the dots” for deficient petitions. Continue Reading

How Blockchain Technology Can Improve the Music Industry

Blockchain is a revolutionary technology that has great potential to solve many of the fundamental challenges facing the music industry today. Blockchain technology including distributed, decentralized ledgers, smart contracts, and the ability to tokenize digital assets, is uniquely suited to address issues such as rights management, licensing, copyright ownership, royalty tracking and reporting and the primary and secondary ticketing markets for live events. Various aspects of the technology are currently being used to address some of these problems. Despite these current uses, blockchain adoption likely will be incremental and more evolutionary than revolutionary, at first. Longer term, blockchain technology could provide a more comprehensive solution for the industry.

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All Bets are On! Gambling and Video Games

How the Evolution of Games Has Led to a Rise in Gambling Concerns

Recently, there has been a frenzy of legal activity with U.S. gambling laws and the number of gambling-related legal issues with video games. U.S. gambling laws have changed more in the past few years than they have in a long time. Significant state law changes have occurred concerning online gambling, sports betting, fantasy sports, and skilled-based games, to name a few. Some significant recent changes under federal gambling law have also occurred. The evolution of certain aspects of games by the game industry—particularly those involving loot boxes, casino-style games, and chance-based mechanics with virtual items—has raised the perception of certain gambling-related issues. Despite being prohibited by game publishers, players’ engagement in unauthorized activities (e.g., selling virtual items on secondary markets and “skin gambling”) have exacerbated these issues. The financial success of these monetization techniques has led to greater legal scrutiny. The rise of eSports has also implicated sport betting issues.  Continue Reading

Is there a Unicorn Among ICO Issuers?

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has indicated that nearly all initial coin offering (“ICO”) filings they have seen are securities offerings. Based on this expansive view, it may be more likely to find a Unicorn than an ICO that is not a securities offering. Ironically, a recent lawsuit was filed against Unikrn, a block-chain based betting platform, primarily focused on esports betting. Continue Reading

Apple Updates Crypto Currency Aspects of App Store Review Guidelines

Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines have been updated to address various aspects of crypto currency. Some of the relevant provisions include the following.

One of the provisions relates to prevents an app from including ads that run background processes such as crypto mining. This is a tactic that has arisen, unbeknownst to many users. The relevant provision recites:

2.4.2 Design your app to use power efficiently. Apps should not rapidly drain battery, generate excessive heat, or put unnecessary strain on device resources. Apps, including any third party advertisements displayed within them, may not run unrelated background processes, such as cryptocurrency mining. Continue Reading

SEC Declares Ether Is Not a Security

The SEC has formally announced that Ether is not a security. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Director of Corporate Finance William Hinman said that the commission would not be classifying ether or bitcoin as securities. Other comments of note include that if a cryptocurrency network is sufficiently decentralized and purchasers no longer have expectation of managerial stewardship from a third party, a coin is not a security. Also, labeling an investment opportunity as a “coin” or a “token” does not make something not a security. The facts and circumstances matter.

Recent Blockchain Patents of Note

As we have previously reported, the number of blockchain patents being filed and granted is continuing to increase. According to a Thomson Reuters report, 225 out of the 406 blockchain patents (55.4%) filed in 2017 came from China, followed by 91 (22.4%) from the U.S. and 13 (3.2%) from Australia. The following is a brief summary of a few such patents that have been recently filed or granted in the U.S.

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