To the surprise of nobody, the United State Department of Justice is appealing the recent ruling by a US District Judge in New Hampshire that stated the Wire Act only applied to sports betting.
In the move anticipated by many, the DOJ filed its appeal with the US District Court last week in an effort to continue the legal battle over which forms of interstate online gambling is permissible under the law.
The New Hampshire ruling came last June when Judge Paul Barbadoro struck down the DOJ’s change of heart regarding the act.
At the start of 2019, the DOJ released a memo citing a new opinion on the Wire Act, stating that all forms of interstate online gambling were unlawful under their interpretation. Before 2019, however, the DOJ operated off a 2011 opinion in which the act only applied to sports betting.
Now that the appeal has been filed, the DOJ has to formally petition the court to hear the appeal before the court can agree to move forward with the appeals process.
The suit was brought forward by the New Hampshire Lottery, which partners with a vendor that has servers in Vermont and Ohio. With the new interpretation of the act, the state’s lottery was in danger of being deemed illegal.
Many other states have voiced their concerns over the federal government’s involvement in state gambling activities because of interstate lottery pacts like Powerball, as well as shared interstate player pools in states with legal online poker.
iDEA Growth, a trade group representing the mobile gaming industry, responded to the news of the DOJ’s appeal with a mixture of ire and optimism.
“The Department’s action, while hardly unexpected, is certainly unwarranted,” said the group’s founder Jeff Ifrah in a press release. “We hope that, rather than engaging in a protracted, expensive, and ultimately unsuccessful legal fight, the Department will take this opportunity to negotiate a settlement which will focus the Wire Act and DOJ’s enforcement resources on the right targets – the unlicensed offshore internet gambling operators who do not create jobs or tax revenue in the U.S. and do not appropriately protect consumers.”