For the past few years, the U.S. Justice Department has used the 1961 Wire Act as justification to crack down on all forms of interstate betting, most specifically online casino and poker sites attempting to capture business from U.S.-based players. But in a surprise ruling last month, the Justice Department determined the Wire Act applies only to interstate sport wagering, not online gaming.

The Justice Department decision was a “major Christmas present for the Internet gambling community,” I. Nelson Rose, Whittier Law School professor and expert on gaming law, told ABC News. “We are about to see this explosion of Internet gambling sweep across the nation.”

The first entities to take advantage of the ruling will likely be state lotteries, which now have clearance to offer online version of their games. New York, Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, California and New Jersey lotteries have all reportedly explored online sales.

The ruling is also a shot in the arm to the various online poker initiatives being considered by Nevada and a number of other state legislatures.