Interstate poker compacts and lotteries could see a boost from the decision by the DOJ to decline the appeal
The deadline for appealing the Wire Act decision came and went as the judgement in favour of the New Hampshire Lottery was not appealed by the US Department of Justice (DOJ). This came as a victory for those in favour of expanding interstate online poker compacts and traditional state lotteries.
General Counsel for the iDevelopment and Economics Association group (iDEA), Jeff Ifrah, was one of the first to celebrate this decision, insisting that the decision was ‘a victory for states’ rights, for clarity in the reading of federal statues, and for the gaming industry and its consumers’.
Freeing up any state to offer online lottery games, this action (or lack thereof) potentially reverted a 2011 declaration by the DOJ’s Office of Legislative Counsel that stated that the act applied only to online sports betting. The jurisdiction of the Wire Act was the focus of this debacle following question from lottery directors in New York and Illinois.
Trump card in 2018
The opinion issued in 2018 by the Trump administration’s DOJ upended the status quo, where they insisted that all forms of online gambling were impacted by the law’s blocking of interstate commerce.
The timeline on this started when the New Hampshire Lottery took this to federal court and won in mid-2019, followed by a First Circuit US Court of Appeals upholding of the decision earlier this year.
In a statement, Ifrah had gone on to explain that states considering legalising online gaming can now enter into compacts with other states that offer legal internet gaming, and ‘state legislatures will have the ability to create rational gaming regulations that protect consumers, grow jobs, and generate tax revenues without risk of federal intervention’.
Vague response from Biden admin
Seeking more a more direct stance, 27 state attorneys general communicated with the US Attorney General Merrick Garland.
They essentially asked for the ‘fog of ambiguity’ to be lifted so that they would not have to file suit in every federal circuit just to understand their rights under the law.
‘There remains substantial uncertainty as to whether states and the industry can move forward with existing online gaming platforms and also invest in new online gaming products without fear of future criminal prosecution,’ the letter said.