Opinion: Wire Act resolution in New Hampshire case A win for US sports activities betting

January 20, 2021was a big day for the country.

Besides the obvious, it’s the day of the First appointment circle decided in favor of New Hampshire Lottery Commission and several other plaintiffs. The decision said that the federal government The Wire Act only applies to betting on sporting events and competitions, and not all forms of gambling.

The decision that coincides with the Biden The administration takeover likely ends a saga that began with a government statement in 2018 Law firm Inversion a 2011 Opinion from the same office, which concluded that the Wire Act only applies to sporting events and not to online lottery sales.

It’s a win for the US sports betting industry for a number of reasons.

A story of two opinions in the Wire Act case

In 2011, the Department of Justice’s OLC issued an opinion on requests from new York and Illinois whether the Wire Act applies to online lottery sales.

Deputy Attorney General Virginia Seitz concluded that the Wire Act only applies to interstate broadcasts and information relating to betting and wagering on Sporting events and competitions.

In particular, other activities such as online lottery sales did not fall within the scope of the Wire Act. Although not specifically mentioned, we have broadened our minds to include things like online interstate poker as it is not a sporting event or competition.

That’s just like your opinion, man

In 2018, Trump’s Justice Department effectively reversed its 2011 opinion.

Despite a popular belief among experts that Court of appeal of the fifth instance, and the 2011 opinion that the Wire Act should only apply to sporting events, Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel reversed opinion, arguing that the 2011 guidelines were wrong and that the Wire Act should apply generally to internet gambling activities beyond sports betting.

The case of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission

In response to the Justice Department’s revised statement, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission and lottery suppliers filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice to prevent enforcement of the 2018 statement.

In June 2019 judge Paul Barbadoro of the New Hampshire District Court issued a 60-page opinion in favor of the New Hampshire Lottery and the other plaintiffs.

Barbadoro’s opinion was a sweeping victory for plaintiffs. However, the judge found that his opinion was limited to the plaintiffs in the case, which put the rest of the online gambling industry off somewhat.

The complaint

Almost a year after the district court’s decision, a three-judge panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the government’s appeal. The calling that took place virtually because of COVID-19 The pandemic was heard by the judges Torruella, Lynch, and Kayatta.

The oral presentation showed that the judges were skeptical of some of the Justice Department’s arguments regarding the intended scope of the statute.

The Wire Act decision

The opinion was drawn up by Judge Kayatta and supplemented by Judge Lynch. The decision is a 2-0 decision as Judge Torruella unfortunately passed away a few months after the hearing and was not part of the decision.

After Judge Kayatta goes through the background to the Wire Act and how this case ended in the First Circle Court of Appeals, he begins to delve into the questions that begin with the question of justification, or in other words, whether the case in general was fair for a court to rule on the matter before him.


The appeals court found that the lottery and other plaintiffs had taken no action to enforce the new opinion, even though the Justice Department had not taken action Stand. The basis for the finding is that the 2018 memo posed a sufficiently immediate threat to the lottery’s operation because of its language and the Justice Department’s earlier enforcement efforts.

The First Circuit also rejected the government’s other justification arguments, which it did not ripe (ready to be heard) or that was the case controversial based on a subsequent Memorandum of the Ministry of Justice from 2019 in which a Indulgence time to enforce the angel memo. The Court ruled that also with the following memo:

“The government refuses to prosecute state lotteries and their vendors for the conduct they are currently engaged in.”

The Administrative Procedure Act

The biggest “legal” question most non-gambling enthusiasts observed in this case revolved around that Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) and whether an Office of Legal Counsel memorandum was “Agency Definitive Action”.

Put simply, if it is a final act it is subject to judicial review. If it does not, in most circumstances it is unlikely to be subject to judicial review.

However, the First Circuit is addressing the problem by determining that the case is under the Determination Act Leaving the Administrative Procedure Act for another day and another case.

The sports betting part

The major argument for the gambling community is the First Circuit’s conclusion that:

We determine that plaintiffs’ claims are justified and that the Wire Act only applies to interstate wire communications related to sporting events or competitions. Therefore, we reaffirm the District Court’s approval of plaintiffs’ motions for a summary of the judgment and the denial of the government’s motion for dismissal and the motion for a summary of the judgment.

As a sort of cherry on top, the government was also asked to pay the appeal-related costs of the New Hampshire Lottery.

What to do with the Wire Act’s decision?

This is a day that many in the gambling world have been waiting for and there really could not have been a bigger win. The decision raises a dark cloud of uncertainty that has ruled the non-sporting online gambling industry since 2018.

For sports betting, this means that the status quo is maintained. There is reason to believe, however, that the Biden administration will be friendlier to sports betting than the Trump administration, and may even push ahead with amending the Wire Act in the future to allow for interstate sports betting treaties like those for poker.

Is that all for that case? Probably yes, given previous testimony from government officials in Biden and the fact that the 2011 opinion came from Biden as Vice President, many believe the new administration will not address this case Supreme Court.

It is certainly an interesting coincidence that the case came to light the day a new administration took office.

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