Only days after William Barr took over the office of the US Attorney General, both he and the Department of Justice have faced a serious lawsuit on behalf of New Hampshire. More specifically, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission has filed a civil suit against the DOJ and Attorney General, in an attempt to get an injunction on the new Wire Act opinion.
New Hampshire Lottery Commission vs DOJ
In the New Hampshire Lottery lawsuit, the plaintiffs pointed out to the opinion’s undermining of the state legislature, the US Congress, as well as the opinion of the previous DOJ and the federal court decisional law.
“The effect of the 2008 opinion is to extend criminal liability under [the Wire Act] far beyond betting on sporting events or contests to include virtually any conceivable form of gambling, which could encompass state-conducted lotteries. Such a construction of the statute is not faithful to the text, structure, purpose, or legislative history of the text.”
What Does This Mean for New Hampshire?
The greatest concern is raised by the actual plaintiff, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission. They are a stable and significant source of revenue for the state budget, with the latest statistics showing $45 million brought in during the last fiscal year. This means that a ban on all gambling would be a cut on massive sources of public funding.
Today New Hampshire is taking action to protect public education in New Hampshire. The opinion issued by DOJ puts millions of dollars of funding at risk, and we have a responsibility to stand up for our students.
Gov. Chris Sununu
Reasons Behind the New Hampshire Lawsuit
Although motivating enough, New Hampshire has two more reasons for taking the lead and filing the lawsuit.
Expanding Gambling Services
Under the current circumstances, the NH Lottery Commission would most likely expand their services in due time, including mobile sports betting services.
Defendant of the Wire Act
The state belongs to the First Circuit of US courts that defended the more liberal reading of the Wire Act, just three years after it was enforced, in 2014.
States Push Back on New Wire Act
New Jersey was swift to provide support during the same day of the suit filing, with Pennsylvania following suit in the coming days, along with other states and even gambling businesses.
The New Wire Act Opinion affects all US states that have opened up their legislation to online gambling, with the exception of sports betting. This new reinterpretation has come under fire both for its legality and its creation. Numerous media reports have been finding links from the opinion to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp.
Untangling the Wire Act Opinion
The Wire Act passed back in 1961 and has been a point of discussion throughout the years. It underwent a lengthy debate regarding whether or not the prohibition imposed on gambling activities applied to sports betting solely or on gambling in general.
Sports Betting Ban
The 2011 reading was key to the massive legalization of the online gambling industry of the country. According to the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) with the DOJ back in those days, the exact reading of the law applied the gambling ban on sports betting exclusively.
This set off a line of events, resulting in a well-established and developed online gambling industry across several states of the US. Online poker, iLottery, as well as online casino and slot gaming platforms have flooded the Internet under their respective licensing body.