DOJ changed its stance on Wire Act earlier this year

NH Lottery Vendor Says DOJ ‘Charade Must End’ In Wire Act Case’s Latest Filing

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The New Hampshire Lottery’s vendor minced few words in its latest filing on the federal court case about the scope of the Wire Act and its application beyond sports betting.

DOJ playing charades with the Wire Act?

“This charade must end,” lawyers for Neopollard Interactive wrote in their latest brief in its case against the Department of Justice. The DOJ recently opined that the Wire Act applies to all forms of interstate gaming, leading to the NH Lottery and a number of states crying foul.

The lottery brought the case to clear up the matter, and more than a dozen states have openly signed on as agreeing that the DOJ has overstepped its bounds. They worry that lottery products and online gaming now run afoul of the law, given the new guidance from the DOJ.

You can see the full filing here:

DOJ reply brief wire act

Oral arguments took place in the case last month, and a decision could be rendered this spring.

Does the Wire Act impact lotteries?

Central to the case is the argument that the new interpretation has all sorts of potential on state lotteries, including the idea that both iLottery and products like Powerball could be illegal under the Wire Act — at least if the DOJ opinion is correct.

As Neopollard outlined, the lotteries were actually the ones who originally asked for clarification from the DOJ years ago, before the DOJ scrapped that. More from the filing:

The Department’s 2018 opinion took aim at and tore down a 2011 Opinion that was issued specifically in response to questions posed by State lotteries whether, under the Wire Act, they could sell lottery tickets over the Internet. In 2005, the Department had said no, but in 2011, the Department authorized that conduct.

How could Plaintiffs possibly construe the 2018 Opinion’s razing of that 2011 decision other than as a revocation of the 2011 Opinion’s authorization and a resurrection of the 2005 enforcement position that selling lottery tickets over the Internet violates the Wire Act?

The judge, during oral arguments, seemed to be sympathetic to the lottery’s arguments on this front.

Will the court see it the lottery’s and Neopollard’s way? Should we find out soon?

- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about poker since 2008.
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