New Hampshire ruling boosts US iGaming

Earlier this year, we wrote about the confusion created by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) reversing its opinion on how the Wire Act 1961 should be interpreted. The latest opinion (dated November 2018) stated that the “statutory prohibitions [in the Wire Act] are not uniformly limited to gambling on sporting events or contests“, directly contradicting a 2011 DOJ opinion and leaving the online gambling industry with no clear view on how to proceed. The New Hampshire Lottery Commission, which offers lottery games such as Powerball that use interstate wires, was concerned that such games would be deemed to be criminal activities under the new interpretation of the Wire Act, so filed a complaint in the US District Court for the District of New Hampshire. The Commission sought a declaratory judgement that the Wire Act is limited to sports gambling, and an order under the Administrative Procedure Act setting aside the DOJ’s 2018 opinion. On 3 June, the court concluded that the Wire Act is limited to sports gambling, declaring that it “applies only to transmissions related to bets or wagers on a sporting event or contest“. Although the ruling applies specifically to New Hampshire, the judgement stated that “it is clear, however, that the judgment binds the parties beyond the geographic boundaries of my district”. Proponents of legalised gambling praised the ruling and opponents are preparing an appeal, so while US iGaming has gained some certainty this is an issue that will continue to affect the industry for a long time to come.