Jeff Ifrah, Founding Partner, Ifrah Law
Considered one of the world’s foremost attorneys in Online Gaming Law, Jeff, and his firm has been at the centre of most of the important prosecutions and lawsuits in the iGaming industry. Nationally ranked by Chambers USA, Jeff is known for his sophisticated gaming and licensing practice that emphasizes innovative areas like cryptocurrency, blockchain and internet sports betting. Jeff advises start-ups in the eSports space, including both real money and skill-based p2p competition sites, on compliance with both state and federal law. His clients in this arena include Unikrn, Bet365, Playtech, Vantiv and the Stars Group.
Jordan: Jeff, recently you commented on the DOJ’s latest opinion on the Wire Act. Does this signify that online sports betting may be in jeopardy in the US?
Jeff: At this point, this opinion is merely that – an opinion. It does not have the force of a law or court opinions. While courts may look to this opinion in their analysis, it is not binding on their interpretation.
As the Wire Act has always directly touched on sports books, the implications for this vertical are unchanged. Online sports books have always had to address the challenges and issues presented by the Wire Act and the landscape remains the same for this vertical.
Jordan: It was reported early this year that Washington hopes to have mobile sports betting operational by February. How likely is it that Washington will be able to keep this deadline?
Jeff: There are many reasons for D.C. to stay on track with this initiative. Councilman Evans has stated that the revenue from sports betting could be used to invest in early childhood development and the arts in D.C. The Council also recognizes the need to regulate the industry: sports betting is currently taking place on smartphones in America, and most of the time it’s done offshore, unregulated and in the shadows. By regulating the industry, lawmakers will have the means to monitor and track the type of bets and people placing them through an online portal. This ensures that only those of a certain age with verifiable IDs and financial resources can play – creating a safe environment for D.C. residents to participate in their favourite pastime.
Jordan: In November last year, I read articles that stated that sports betting in Washington were highly unlikely. Fast forward to January this year and it seems as though council members are in a hurry to get a sports betting bill passed in Washington. In your opinion, what factors caused this almost 180-degree change in legislature opinion on sports betting in Washington?
Jeff: Success from mobile gaming is a reality. Take our neighbour to the north: in New Jersey, our research found that after three years of regulated online gaming, the gaming industry contributed $998 million to the state’s economy, created 3,374 new jobs and generated $124 million in tax revenue, including $83.5 million in online gambling taxes.
In August 2018 alone, New Jersey received $9.2 million in revenue from more than $95 million in sports betting wagers placed in the state, with online betting accounting for more than one-third of the state’s total sports betting revenue.
Jordan: What do you most look forward to by being part of the All American Sports Betting Summit 2019?
Jeff: I look forward to speaking with others in this flourishing industry about the economic benefits of sports betting and successful strategies for its continuing success. As a community, we must come together to educate and advocate for the tax revenue and jobs that come from this form of entertainment. We must continue to endorse rational consumer protection regulations and innovative technology to safeguard both the consumer and the games.
Jeff is excited to meet you at the All American Sports Betting Summit 2019. See more information on the All American Sports Betting Summit and how you can register below.