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December 14, 2020, GMT+0000, 5:32 am
News Regulation

Wire Act Stalls West Virginia Mobile Betting

concept of online sport bets

Mobile sports betting fans in West Virginia will have to wait a while longer before they can bet on the go, due to the implications of the Federal Wire Act. 

Officials at the West Virginia Lottery organisation have announced that the planned launch of a DraftKings sports betting app has been put on hold while work is done to ensure that the app and its support infrastructure fully complies with the Wire Act. 

Passed in 1961, the Wire Act makes it illegal to use communication facilities to support interstate gambling, and this applies whether gambling is legal in those states or not. Sports betting is legal in West Virginia and New Jersey, but the issue in this case appears to relate to the precise location of the servers that support the DraftKings app. 

State Lottery Director John Myers has confirmed that the Lottery have put the app launch on hold while the issue regarding the location of one of the servers is resolved. Reports state that there are two servers associated with the sports betting app; a bet server and a wallet server. 

In order to comply with the Wire Act, both servers would need to be located within the state of West Virginia, but reports suggest that while the bet server is based in Charles Town, the wallet server is located in New Jersey, and speaking to the US media, Myers admitted that, as one of the first states to introduce online sports betting apps, they were learning on the job:

“There is not a precedent to go by in the law. There’s not a precedent to go by in creating platforms and these systems that move the data around. We are kind of learning as we go.”

The app launch is likely to be delayed by several weeks while the server issue is resolved. 

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