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Lotteries; AGs Show Opposition to DOJ Opinion of Wire Act

Summary: After the Department of Justice decided to reinterpret the Wire Act of 1961 from the 2011 ruling, states with online gambling as well as lotteries are now speaking out.

Just a short time ago, the Department of Justice decided to change the way the Wire Act of 1961 was interpreted. In 2011, the Obama Administration had ruled the Wire Act involved only interstate online sports betting. This resulted in states being able to offer online gaming services, including lottery, casino and poker games. With the new change, the Wire Act is applied to all interstate online gaming. This means that states who have online lottery gaming and shared online poker pools will be affected.

Lotteries and Attorneys General Speak Out

Lotteries across the United States as well Attorneys General in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have spoken out in letter form as to the changes and how they do not agree with the new opinion. New Jersey AG Gurbir Grewal and Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro both signed a letter showing their displeasure about the decision.

In their letter, Grewal stated that the action by the Justice Department is wrong based on the law and wrong for his state. New Jersey has offered online gaming for five years now and regulators rely on the promises of the DOJ to help develop a strong online gaming industry, one that generates hundreds of millions of dollars. The iGaming industry is key to the vitality of Atlantic City and without it, the city would fall behind again.

Grewal not only sent the letter with the Pennsylvania AG but he has filed for a Freedom of Information request. With the request the AG is asking to see all records involved with decision. Reports have surfaced that report Sheldon Adelson and his fellow lobbyists were involved in the change.

Lottery Letter

The North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries issued a statement earlier this week stating that the new opinion is bad for the gaming industry. The group includes lotteries in the United States as well as Canada. Associate members of the group include Scientific Games, IGT and Intralot.

In the letter, the group points out that the reinterpretation creates a ‘substantially detrimental impact’ on the lottery industry in areas such as retail based drawings, instant lottery games, traditional games offered online as well as the billions of dollars generated from gaming that is used for good causes.

The lotteries of the United States may challenge the ruling by the DOJ in New Hampshire courts, as the state is one six that offers online lottery gaming. The case would be heard in the 1st Circuit, which is also where the 2014 case involving sports betting was decided that the Act was limited to sports betting.

The online lottery could be affected in Pennsylvania as well as Michigan. Other states could also be affected.

Online Gaming Changes

The new decision by the DOJ affects online gaming as a whole. The online lotteries will be affected in several states along with online poker in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey. With online poker, these three states offer the gaming option with shared player pools. The online poker sites are connected so that players who live in Delaware can play online at New Jersey and/or Nevada poker sites and vice versa.

With the new change, interstate online gambling is prohibited. The states will have to make changes to be in line with the new DOJ opinion. However, by the looks of things, the invested states are not going to back down and will be fighting this ruling in court to be able to offer what they have been for the past few years.