It Is a Win for IGT and New Hampshire Following the U.S. District Court Wire Act Ruling

The Federal Wire Act, commonly known as the Interstate Wire Act of 1961, regards sports gambling only. This is now clear following a U.S. District Court ruling against the USA Department of Justice.

This was the second case in the past few years regarding the Wire Act. A federal judge explicitly noted that the Wire Act regarded sports betting and not online lotteries, online casino games, or other forms of gaming or gambling.

The new ruling highly favors online poker operators because they got the clarification they were looking for. In other words, online poker operators can now have shared player pools across jurisdictions.

Department of Justice: You Can Sell Your Tickets Online

New York, Illinois, and other states wanted to sell their lottery tickets online in 2011. Being law-abiding states and not wanting to step on the federal government’s head, these states wanted clarifications about the Wire Act below enrolling the selling of lottery tickets online.

The states consulted with the Department of Justice Legal Counsel. Virginia Seitz, the U.S. Assistant Attorney General, wrote a memo to respond to states. The message explained that the Wire Act pertained to sports betting or interstate and foreign commerce contests.

This green light allowed states to sell their lottery tickets on the internet. Later, Nevada sanctioned online poker, followed by Delaware and New Jersey. Some states also legalized online casino games such as slots and virtual tables.

Department of Justice: We Take It Back

Fast forward to 2016, when the Trump Administration took over. Following a huge movement financed by Sheldon Adelson, the Department of Justice reversed its previous decision.

The Late Sheldon accumulated most of his wealth from land-based casinos. having online casinos partially hurt his business and other tycoons’ land-based gaming business.

The mega-donor even formed a lobbying group to help with the campaign to review the interpretation of the Wire Act in November 2011. Some Republican politicians initiated passing the Restoration of the Wire Act in different packaging but failed.
Adelson was desperate to kill internet gambling. He made friends in the Trump’s Administration. His pursuit for friends in high places was successful as it led to the 2018/19 memo from the then Acting U.S. Attorney General, Steven Engel, reversing the 2011 Wire Act interpretation.

The memo highlighted that the statutory bans were not limited to sporting events and contests. This left every state venerable to lawsuits under the Wire Act for iGaming, sale of lottery tickets on the internet, and online poker. Various states asked for clarifications, which never provided further details. However, some states and games providers were not about to give in.

For example, IGT provides 37 states with lotteries and other casino games. The games and service provider was not comfortable with the interpretation of the Wire Act. The company sued the Department of Justice and AG Garland.

There was a back and forth between the two until September 15, 2022. Judge William Smith gave a 24-page ruling declaring the Wire Act was only applicable to sporting events and contests.

NeoPolland Interactive also partnered with New Hampshire Lottery Commission to sue the Department of Justice and Attorney General William Burr. Judge Paul Barbadoro listened to all arguments and issued a 63-page ruling, summarizing the Wire Act applied to sports events. Unfortunately, these rulings do not solve the underlying issues.

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