New Hampshire Wins Wire Act Case

This story was published more than 5 years ago.

This week a federal judge in New Hampshire ruled that the state's legal challenge in regards to the Department of Justice Wire Act is valid, rejecting the 2018 interpretation that the law applies to all forms of gambling.

The decision came in a summary judgment, wherein he blasted the DoJ's 2018 opinion, which reversed a 2011 decision from the DoJ under the Obama administration. The Wire Act was passed in 1961, but Trump Justice Department officials claim the law meant to include internet betting as well as sportsbetting. Under the verbiage though, interstate activities like lottery sales could also be illegal. These factors all weighed into Judge Paul Barbadoro's decision.

Barbadoro said that New Hampshire has valid grounds to file a case, and then opined that the risk of prosecution from the DoJ was substantial. In his ruling the judge wrote: After operating for years in reliance on OLC guidance that their conduct was not subject to the Wire Act, the plaintiffs have had to confront a sudden about-face by the Department of Justice.

"Even worse, they face a directive from the Deputy Attorney General to his prosecutors that they should begin enforcing the OLC's new interpretation of the Act after the expiration of a specified grace period."

"In sum, this is no hypothetical case: The plaintiffs have demonstrated with specific record evidence that they had standing when they filed suit because a sufficiently imminent threat of enforcement loomed. The plaintiffs faced the choice between risking criminal prosecution, winding down their operations, or taking significant and costly compliance measures that may not even eliminate the threat."

"Before the 2018 Opinion, federal law enforcement could not invoke the Wire Act to disconnect the Lottery Commission from the internet. Now it can."

These issues led to the judge ruling in New Hampshire's favor, and dealing the DoJ a big blow in attempting to clamp down on internet betting, lotteries, and sportsbetting. While the feds can appeal the case, it's unknown whether they'll opt to.

About the author

Dustin Jermalowicz // News Editor
Dustin Jermalowicz
Dustin has a long-standing passion for gambling. He has been writing professionally on the subject and breaking industry news for Casino Listings since 2011. His favorite casino games include Blackjack, Poker, and Hi/Lo. A proud native of Detroit, Dustin currently lives in Michigan.