Implications from New Hampshire Lottery Commission v. Barr

In a recent decision that inures to the benefit of the online gambling industry, a federal district court in New Hampshire held that the “the text, context, and structure of the Wire Act” limit its applicability to sports gambling, and not to other types of gambling. On June 3, the court in New Hampshire Lottery Commission v. Barr, set aside a 2018 Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion (the 2018 OLC opinion), which concluded that the Wire Act applied beyond sports gambling. The court’s order leaves in place a prior 2011 OLC opinion that reached the opposite conclusion—that the Wire Act criminalizes the use of interstate/foreign wires for sports gambling but not other forms of gambling. The DOJ may still appeal the court’s decision, but for now, this decision provides some clarity in the law regarding the Wire Act’s applicability to non-sport-related gambling.

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