New Hampshire Files Lawsuit Against DOJ Over Wire Act Ruling

By Joe Nocco

February 21st, 2019 - 12:40pm

It’s safe to say that the New Hampshire Lottery is not happy with the state’s Department of Justice at the moment.

Earlier in the month, the New Hampshire Lottery officially filed a civil lawsuit against the Department of Justice in regards to the latter’s recent reinterpretation of the Wire Act and its accompanying language.

The federal Wire Act of 1961, which is often taken into consideration when illegal forms of gambling are involved, now appears to be interfering with legal forms of gambling in the state as well. As reported by the National Law Review, the lawsuit reads:

“The Wire Act does not prohibit the use of a wire communication facility to transmit in interstate commerce bets, wagers, receipts, money, credits, or any other information related to any type of gaming other than gambling on sporting events and contests.”

Northeast Resistance

It is also worth noting that New Hampshire is not the only state that has taken issue with the manipulation of the Wire Act’s verbiage as of late. In addition to the New Hampshire Lottery’s ongoing lawsuit, some in the state of New Jersey threatened to file a similar suit for the exact same reason.

Spearheading such a revolution, New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggesting that the matter will indeed be taken to court if his demands are not met.

“If the OLC 2019 Wire Act Opinion is not rescinded, I have authorized former Senator Raymond Lesniak to file suit in U.S. District Court on behalf of the New Jersey Senate for a Declaratory Judgment that the 2019 OLC Opinion is arbitrary and capricious and that the statutory prohibitions of the Wire Act are uniformly limited to gambling on sporting events or contests,” wrote Sweeney.

“The 2019 opinion, which took 26 pages of tortured analysis of sentence structure and comma placements to determine that the clear language of the Wire Act applied to all forms of gambling, was contrary to the much better reasoned opinion of the 5th Circuit and the ‘thorough review’ of the Department of Justice in 2011.”

The New Hampshire-based civil lawsuit, a grievance that notably names Attorney General William Barr as a plaintiff, is bidding to stop the Department of Justice from enforcing the controversial opinion that has now surfaced due to the Wire Act’s language.

Possible Repercussions

With this latest reinterpretation causing all of this chaos, the initial interpretation of the law was originally created to restrict interstate betting -- and specifically wagering whose commerce would often cross state lines -- not to curb other forms of gaming including the lottery and online gambling among others.

Obviously, the Department of Justice’s newfound thought process could cost those in favor of using the lottery to create revenue quite a bit of cash going forward.

“Today New Hampshire is taking action to protect public education in New Hampshire,” the lawsuit adds. “The opinion issued by [Department of Justice] puts millions of dollars of funding at risk, and we have a responsibility to stand up for our students.”

What makes New Hampshire’s issue different from New Jersey’s dispute is that the latter is dealing with much more than just the lottery being affected by the Wire Act. New Jersey, of course, is home to the Northeast casino hub, Atlantic City, while the Mid-Atlantic territory also legalized sports gambling midway through last year.

With New Jersey now operating as a two-headed monster in that department, the state stands to lose a tremendous amount of both handle and revenue – which may now lead to yet another lawsuit in addition to the one stemming from New Hampshire’s Lottery.
Written By
Joe Nocco

Joe Nocco writes about gambling news for TopUsBets. His background is primarily sports-related and he’s one of the more balanced reporters in the betting business in terms of experience.

He’s also a regular contributor to Clutch Points and has covered... Read More

Joe Nocco writes about gambling news for TopUsBets. His background is primarily sports-related and he’s one of the more balanced reporters in the betting business in terms of experience....

Read More