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Department of Justice Ruled against in US District Court for the Wire Act

June 5, 2019

New Hampshire filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Justice in an effort to clarify a vague gambling law that dates back to 1961. US District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro made a 60-page ruling that rejected the 2018 opinion that expanded the Wire Act for broadly covering interstate online gambling. In the past interpretation from 2011, they narrowed this down to only include sports betting, but not everyone liked this ruling. 

What the Judge Decided

Judge Paul Barbadoro will only apply the bill to sports betting, and it will not apply to online gambling or other types forms like state lotteries. Despite the promising move forward for the realm of online gambling, we can expect that this won't go down without a fight. In fact, most expect that the DOJ will attempt to appeal the decision. This ruling, however, does have some undertones of victory because of how it opens the door for online gamblers to do what they love.

How the DOJ Fought It

We saw the DOJ fight this recent ruling by trying to dismiss it based on the argument that the new opinion creates different enforcement for state lotteries. Those against the DOJ, however, have argued that if the court rules in favor of the DOJ, it could give them absolute power for criminalizing operations at all points. Judge Barbadoro ruled in favor of the state of New Hampshire. The reasoning Barbadoro gave is that state lottery already struggles in New Hampshire for securing funding, and he used this as the main reason for dismissing the case against the online lottery. 

Grossly Outdated and Poorly Written

Unfortunately, when you look at the 1961 act holding everything back, the act is outdated, and it's poorly written as well. The language is ambiguous, which was what led to the argument, and it ultimately helped Judge Barbadoro make his decision. When he looked at it, he said that the language was not favorable to either side. 

What we saw in this situation was that ambiguity played a role in the decision. After reviewing much of the evidence, online gambling won in the courts of New Hampshire. However, this is most likely not the end of the case, and we could still see an appeal from the Department of Justice. Because of the vagueness in the bill, it could go either way. In the meantime, not much changes with the status quo, but you don't have to worry that online gambling will become illegal in New Hampshire for the time.


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