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New Hampshire sues DOJ over new Wire Act ruling

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New Hampshire LotteryNew Hampshire Lottery: New Hampshire sues DOJ over new Wire Act ruling
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New Hampshire on Friday became the first state to legally challenge last month's U.S. Department of Justice decision to revise the Federal Wire Act, filing a federal lawsuit that would halt enforcement of the opinion that could keep the state from selling lottery tickets online.

The state is asking a U.S. District Court judge to vacate the 23-page opinion from the Department's Office of Legal Counsel, confirm that the Wire Act does not apply to state lotteries, and permanently keep the Justice Department from acting on the opinion.

New Hampshire's lottery, which supports public education in the state, generated $87.5 million in net profits that went toward funding public schools, according to a statement from Governor Chris Sununu.

"The opinion issued by DOJ puts millions of dollars of funding at risk, and we have a responsibility to stand up for our students," Sununu said.

The opinion, dated Nov. 2, 2018, reversed a 2011 ruling on the Wire Act that said the law only pertained to sports betting. The revised decision said the Wire Act covers any action where gaming information is transmitted over the Internet.

Gaming law experts and analysts said the new ruling could curtail online gambling activities in three states, the sale of lottery tickets over the Internet, and, potentially, mobile sports wagering, among other activities.

The New Hampshire Lottery has recorded more than $6.6 billion in lottery sales and other earnings over the last 54 years, with more than $4.4 billion paid in prizes and other cost of sales. Net proceeds to education total more than $2 billion to date.

"Case law in the 1st Circuit is favorable on one issue raised by (New Hampshire): that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting," Eilers & Krejcik Gaming analyst Chris Grove said in an email. "But a ruling doesn't mean an end to the case, and the appeals process could be far lengthier."

For now, it is unclear how the new Wire Act interpretation will impact gaming operations. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein issued a memorandum in January delaying implementation of the opinion for 90 days while the Justice Department decides how it will handle any Wire Act prosecutions.

Gaming attorney Daniel Wallach, writing on Twitter, said New Hampshire' request for quick ruling means a judgment might take place before the 90-day "non-prosecution period" expires.

"Interesting that (New Hampshire) Lottery went for immediate summary judgment instead of a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction," Wallach wrote. "Won't have to show immediate irreparable harm."

New Hampshire's lawsuit joins a growing chorus of voices critical of the opinion and is the first official legal action against the DOJ for the Wire Act ruling. On Feb. 6, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro asked the Justice Department to withdraw the decision, saying the opinion was "wrong" and an "unfounded about-face" that "undermines the values of federalism."

Grewal also filed a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) seeking records pertaining to the Justice Department's opinion and communications between the agency that involved Las Vegas Sands Corp. and the casino company's lobbyists. Last week, a lawyer for the Sands-funded coalition that lobbied for the Wire Act changes, told the Washington Post a memo written by his firm was given to the Justice Department in 2017. The opinion, "accords entirely with the analysis my firm undertook and I shared with the DOJ."

On Wednesday, MGM Resorts International Chairman Jim Murren call the DOJ's ruling "perplexing" and a "poorly written" decision and added the gaming industry believes the opinion is "unenforceable." He also said the opinion makes the 44-state Powerball lottery illegal.

Grove speculated that "other parties are poised to intervene" in the New Hampshire lawsuit.

NeoPollard Interactive, which serves as the technology and service provider of the New Hampshire Lottery's iLottery system, filed a similar lawsuit against the DOJ in federal court.

Grove said federal court win for the state, coupled with new U.S. Attorney General William Barr's long-standing belief against federal overreach, could allow the Department to formally carve out legal intrastate online gambling from the Wire Act.

"We believe the gambling industry is already taking steps to promote that outcome," he said.

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11 comments. Last comment 3 months ago by KY Floyd.
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Simpsonville
United States
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January 22, 2015
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Posted: February 15, 2019, 6:07 pm - IP Logged

Certainly hope that New Hampshire wins this against this archaic law.  Let us not forget that NH was the first state to have a lottery..the Sweepstakes.

    music*'s avatar - Trek HAND1.gif
    Fresno, California
    United States
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    August 2, 2014
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    Posted: February 15, 2019, 7:20 pm - IP Logged

    Certainly hope that New Hampshire wins this against this archaic law.  Let us not forget that NH was the first state to have a lottery..the Sweepstakes.

    Speaking of archaic law. Did you know that in the 1890s laws were passed and President Harrison signed the law to ban all lotteries? Nationwide. 

     It killed the corrupt Louisiana lottery that was like an octopus reaching into corrupt politicians throughout the nation.

     These laws may still be in effect. Congress has not repealed them. 

    US Flag

      " Live Long and Prosper" Spock on Star Trek. A Vulcan.

      Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
      100
      Zeta Reticuli Star System
      United States
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      January 17, 2006
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      Posted: February 15, 2019, 7:40 pm - IP Logged

      Suing the DOJ just sounds kind of odd.

      Has anyone ever done so and succeeded?

      Artist?

      Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any. So many systems, so many theories, so few jackpot winners. 

      Lep

      There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

        Artist77's avatar - batman14

        United States
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        January 16, 2012
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        Posted: February 15, 2019, 8:16 pm - IP Logged

        Suing the DOJ just sounds kind of odd.

        Has anyone ever done so and succeeded?

        Artist?

        You can sue any government agency or department if they acted outside their jurisdiction, etc.

        I believe years ago the attorneys at DOJ sued for unpaid overtime and I recall they won. You can sue for fraud, waste and abuse. You cannot sue and claim they have no legal authority to enforce certain laws because they do. You would have to claim they exceeded their authority or perhaps the issue was more a state one vs federal. Happens fairly often. DOJ is known to be pretty crooked and dishonest. They have been reprimanded in court many times for misleading judges and failing to produce exculpatory evidence. They went after that Senator from Alaska years ago, who later died in a plane crash, and claimed he had misused funds. The senator was later cleared and it was determined DOJ manufactured evidence. I think the judge sanctioned the DOJ attorneys.  Public interest groups like Greenpeace, the Heritage foundation, file a lot of government actions.  Just the DC stories I know.

        Je vous salue, Marie, pleine de grace.  We will rebuild!

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          Kentucky
          United States
          Member #32651
          February 14, 2006
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          Posted: February 15, 2019, 11:18 pm - IP Logged

          Certainly hope that New Hampshire wins this against this archaic law.  Let us not forget that NH was the first state to have a lottery..the Sweepstakes.

          At least you started conversation on the Wire Act, but after reading where New Hampshire is suing the DOJ, somebody actually questioned the validity. Maybe it was a slow day in the NH Attorney General office and somebody said "for kicks, let's sue the Justice Department". LOL

          We're talking about millions a year in lost revenue if Online lottery are banned.

            Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
            100
            Zeta Reticuli Star System
            United States
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            January 17, 2006
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            Posted: February 15, 2019, 11:42 pm - IP Logged

            Thanks for the information, Artist.

            Reading the headline made me think of those scenes where the police are involved in something and a citizen says,"I'll call the cops" and they say, "We are the cops."

            Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any. So many systems, so many theories, so few jackpot winners. 

            Lep

            There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

              Avatar
              Simpsonville
              United States
              Member #163184
              January 22, 2015
              1840 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: February 16, 2019, 8:41 am - IP Logged

              Speaking of archaic law. Did you know that in the 1890s laws were passed and President Harrison signed the law to ban all lotteries? Nationwide. 

               It killed the corrupt Louisiana lottery that was like an octopus reaching into corrupt politicians throughout the nation.

               These laws may still be in effect. Congress has not repealed them. 

              US Flag

              music*, did not know that, learn something everyday.

              I fear the bigger ramifications are the Feds exerting more control over the states.  We're talking about intrastate not interstate transactions within the borders of said state(s).

               

              Does California offer on-line sales?

                music*'s avatar - Trek HAND1.gif
                Fresno, California
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                Posted: February 16, 2019, 10:36 am - IP Logged

                Bleudog101, NO, I do not think that California offers online sales. We can check our tickets using cell phones. 

                good luck to all LP Members with PB tonight!

                  " Live Long and Prosper" Spock on Star Trek. A Vulcan.

                  Avatar
                  South Carolina
                  United States
                  Member #18321
                  July 9, 2005
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                  Posted: February 16, 2019, 10:37 pm - IP Logged

                  Question:  If a state is selling lottery tickets online, do you have to be a resident of that particular state, in order to purchase online tickets ???

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                    Simpsonville
                    United States
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                    January 22, 2015
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                    Posted: February 17, 2019, 12:02 am - IP Logged

                    Yes you have to be physically in that state.  Same for NJ sports betting, have to be physically in New Jersey to wager.  I've read some folks on border towns of KY could not play on-line because the system thinks they are not in KY.  As for residency requirements I would say Yes to that too as you have to register to play the lottery with all the required information.  For sports gambling don't think so, folks cross over from New York to play.

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                      NY
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                      October 16, 2005
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                      Posted: February 18, 2019, 2:29 pm - IP Logged

                      "I'll call the cops" and they say, "We are the cops."

                      Calling the sheriff's department when you've been pulled over by one of the sheriff's deputies won't do anything but confirm that it really is a deputy that pulled you over, but cops work for many different agencies. Cops ticketing others in their own agency may be pretty uncommon, but YouTube will show you plenty of videos of cops being ticketed by other cops.

                      The government is a bit similar, but it's usually harder to cover things up if one hand of the government tries to protect another hand of the government. You usually can't sue yourself (there are some oddball exceptions) and I can't imagine how the (whole) DOJ could be sued by the (whole) DOJ, but the states are a completely different and independent government.

                      And of course the DOJ can be sued, just like any other government entity. That includes suing them for things that are clearly within their jurisdiction. The jurisdiction of the DOJ (obviously) includes aspects of federal law, including enforcement and interpretation of what the law permits, prohibits, or requires. Off the top of my head the lawsuit that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act may be one of the best known examples of a successful suit against the DOJ.