DOJ stands firm on new 2018 Wire Act interpretation

Updated: 16/08/2022

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a memorandum to dismiss a lawsuit from the state of New Hampshire challenging its recently revised interpretation of the Wire Act.

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The DOJ has asked for New Hampshire’s opposition lawsuit to be thrown out. © Pixabay.

Attorneys acting on behalf of the DOJ released the 37-page memo last Friday, requesting that New Hampshire’s lawsuit be terminated. The lawsuit centres around the DOJ’s 2018 re-interpretation of the Act, which now judges all forms of gambling across state lines illegal. Previously, only sports betting was prohibited.

The DOJ makes its case with four key points. First off, with no bodies or states yet prosecuted under the Act, the DOJ claims that the lawsuit has a “lack of standing”. Furthermore, the DOJ said that once the new reading is implemented, there will be no violation charges issued for an initial 90-day period.

Secondly, using case law to back up its case, the DOJ has asked for previous interpretations of the Wire Act to be dismissed.

Thirdly, the DOJ attests that rulings made against it should be via “Exclusively Declaratory Relief”. This is a system whereby damages would not have to be paid out.

Finally, the DOJ has asked that the court should reject claims made by states that have joined New Hampshire in the lawsuit via the Amicus Curiae memoranda. The DOJ claims that any resulting damages should only apply to the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, as they are the body that initially opened the lawsuit.

It seems unlikely that New Hampshire’s lawsuit will be dismissed, but what is clear is that the DOJ is unwilling to budge on its new reading of the Act, despite heavy opposition. The First Circuit Court of Appeals has already once ruled that the Wire Act only encompasses sports betting.

Along with New Hampshire, 15 other US states have filed memos against the ruling, with the case expected to be heard on 11 April.

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