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Rachael Price February 16, 2019 3 min read
New Hampshire to Contest DOJ Decision in Court
With the Department of Justice unyielding in its resolve to rescind its latest Opinion on the state of the Wire Act legal momentum against the DOJ is starting to build up. The latest entrant is the New Hampshire Lottery Commission.
Shots Fired: The New Hampshire Lottery Commission vs. DOJ
Pennsylvania and New Jersey’s Attorney Generals sent a letter to the Office of Legal Counsel with Department of Justice (DOJ) issuing a fair warning that should DOJ sees the measures enacted by its legal team after the 90-day grace period, the two states would seek to settle matters in court.
The New Hampshire Lottery Commission seems to have jumped the gun, launching its own complaint against the Wire Act Opinion.
On Friday, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu lodged a complaint with the US District Court in New Hampshire opening the first salvo in what would most likely be months of back and forth between legislators, states, and the somewhat foggy position of the DOJ. Mr. Sununu had the following to say, releasing an official statement to go with the injunction request:
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.
The DOJ is not alone in facing backlash from states across the country. US Attorney General William Barr is also in focused by the complaint and things are only about to get intense with other states planning on piling on.
Can the DOJ and Mr. Barr withstand the public discontent on a national level?
The Events that Got Us Here: DOJ and the Wire Act
So, what has led us to this point of history? In 2019, legislators expected a much more upbeat climate for poker and online gaming. This might be changing as the Wire Act, which originally applied to sports betting (as per a ruling dating back to 2011), was re-interpreted by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at DOJ to signify something completely different.
What DoJ is doing right now is to effectively disrupt an industry that has spent years on building itself. New Hampshire generates $45 million revenue as well, which makes it one of the most important contributors to the state’s coffers.
Cancelling it out right now would serve only one purpose – to satisfy casino mogul Sheldon Adelson who has been long content in not trying to adapt to a new and changing world, but rather use venal luddites on his side to get his way.
Can New Hampshire Best the DOJ?
New Hampshire is well-poised to contest the legislation because of focusing specifically on iLotteries, which is the segment that would be the most affected by the new Wire Act Opinion.
3 reasons why I peg the New Hampshire Lottery as the ideal plaintiff for challenging the DoJ’s Wire Act reinterpretation:
1. It is an iLottery
2. Will likely be overseeing mobile sports betting next year
3. U.S. v. Lyons (CA1 case limiting reach of Wire Act to sports betting)
— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) February 4, 2019
The state previously proved that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting, joining places such as New York and Illinois in defending the right of lottery businesses to operate.