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DOJ Wire Act Opinion: Here Comes the Legal Action

Summary: After several states have come out in opposition of the recent Wire Act change by the Department of Justice, legal action is now begin taken by New Hampshire as well as possible via New Jersey.

Late last year, it was announced that the Department of Justice had decided to change the 2011 Obama Administration’s opinion involving the Wire Act of 1961. The new opinion was that interstate online gaming is restricted fully, instead of just involving sports betting.

This change has sparked controversy among several states in the nation as they are already involved in legal online gambling activities that are generating significant tax revenue in their states. New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney has stated that he will file a lawsuit on the matter if the decision is not rescinded. New Hampshire has decided to go ahead and file a suit against the DOJ.

New Jersey

Stephen Sweeney has officially asked the Department of Justice to change their new opinion of the Wire Act. If they do not, Sweeney has plans to go to court against the ruling. A letter was sent by Sweeney to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stating the case as to why the opinion is wrong and should be rescinded.

In the letter, Sweeney points out that the change in 2011 paved the way for online gambling in New Jersey, which was legalized in 2013. Because of the legalization of online gaming, the state has been able to generate over $1 billion for the Atlantic City region, which was struggling for many years. Thousands of jobs were also created in the region and revenues are being generated that are greatly helping the state.

While it is still unclear as to how the Wire Act new opinion will affect the states that offer online gambling, it should affect New Jersey involving online poker. New Jersey, along with Nevada and Delaware, offer online poker gaming across state borders. The three states share poker liquidity, with players having the ability to play at sites in each state.

The new interpretation of the Wire Act would basically ban this type of online poker game play. New Jersey does not want to see this sector affected along with other areas of online gaming.

New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Lottery has actually filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Department of Justice. The goal is an attempt to stop the DOJ from enforcing their new opinion of the Wire Act against lottery gaming.

Governor Chris Sununu commented on the action taken, stating that New Hampshire is taking action in order to protect public education in the state. The Governor pointed out that the federal opinion is placing millions of dollars at risk, funding that is used for students.

In the state, the lottery offers traditional lottery gaming as well as online lottery sales. The group also has plans to start offering sports betting. In their complaint, the state Lottery has noted the consequences that the opinion will have involving their online sales.

In the filing, the New Hampshire Lottery stated that banks accepting and processing lottery related transactions will most likely be affected which could shut down the online lottery sales channel. Shutting down this channel would essentially result in the loss of $6 to $8 million in education funding.

In the filing, William Barr has been named the defendant. Barr was just recently confirmed as the United States Attorney General.

With New Hampshire filing the lawsuit this week, it will not be surprising to see other states join in or throwing their support behind the state as they want to see the ruling change as well. We shall see in the coming days and weeks how the suit will play out. Will the DOJ feel the pressure and change the opinion back to its former state?