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Federal Judge says Wire Act only applies to sports betting

4 Jun 2019

By Dan Ippolito
Yesterday, a New Hampshire federal judge concluded in a 63-page ruling that the Wire Act applies only to sports betting, rejecting a 2018 opinion that expanded the 1961 federal gambling law to cover interstate online gambling.

“I hereby declare that [the Wire Act] applies only to transmissions related to bets or wagers on a sporting event or contest,” stated U.S. District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro in his decision. "I have no reason to believe that the Government will fail to respect my ruling that the Wire Act is limited to sports gambling."

The decision was immediately hailed as a victory for state lotteries and online poker operators.

Barbadoro’s decision comes after the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office filed a complaint in February, challenging the DOJ’s opinion that the 1961 Wire Act applies to lottery sales over the internet.

"Today's ruling is a historic victory for the State of New Hampshire, and we are proud to have led this effort," said Governor Chris Sununu. "New Hampshire stood up, took action and won – all to protect public education in our state. I would like to thank the Attorney General's Office and the Lottery Commission for their work on this critical case."

It is likely that the DOJ will appeal Barbadoro’s decision.
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