New Hampshire Wire Act Challenge Could Be Decided by May
Charles McIntyre, the executive director of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, said he expects his state’s challenge of the U.S. Department of Justice’s new legal interpretation of the 1961 federal Wire Act could be decided by late May.
The New Hampshire Lottery has filed a suit against the DOJ seeking to nullify the new opinion—that has not yet moved into enforcement—which calls into question the legality of interstate lotteries such as Mega Millions and PowerBall. Several states with online lotteries have filed support for the challenge as has New Jersey, which allows online casino and sports betting.
McIntyre told Online Poker Report that he expects Judge Paul J. Barbadoro to render his decision before the end of May.
“In a statutory issue,” McIntyre said. “There’s a lot of things to look at. We’re talking about a law passed pre-internet. Most laws have been updated to reflect technology, and this one obviously hasn’t. He’s a very deliberate, considerate judge, so I think he’ll take at least 30 to 40 days to make a decision.”
McIntyre said he also expects the judge to consider how a long deliberation would impact the state’s budget.
“One of the things we impressed upon the judge is that internet lottery revenues are a part of our budget process,” McIntyre said. “We submit revenue expectations for the next two years, including internet lottery revenues.”
New Hampshire must approve its state budget by June.
The DOJ in January overturned a previous 2011 interpretation of the wire act that said the law applied only to sports betting where information was sent across state lines. The new opinion holds that the law covers all types of betting, including online betting.
Three states—New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware—implemented only casino betting after the 2011 opinion was released. Pennsylvania and West Virginia have also approved online gambling.
McIntyre said the support of so many states is heartening.
“We’re a pretty cohesive group of states in terms of lotteries,” McIntyre said. “Many of the heads of lotteries are my friends, and I expected support from them, for sure.”
Many have charged that the new DOJ ruling was meant to appease casino owner Sheldon Adelson—a major Republican donor—who has been personally financing lobbying efforts to ban online betting.