When the US Department of Justice (DOJ) reinterpreted the Wire Act of 1961 to expand its scope (and shut down many forms of regulated online gambling), a legal backlash was all but guaranteed. That backlash has arrived in the form of a lawsuit that was originally filed by the State of New Hampshire, via the New Hampshire State Lottery, and is picking up steam at a very rapid clip. As of this writing, at least 16 states are pursuing some sort of legal action again the DOJ’s Wire Act re-do and that number could continue climbing.
New Hampshire was first out the gate with its lawsuit and was quickly followed by states that one would expect to vigorously fight including New Jersey and Pennsylvania. New Jersey has the most to lose from a Wire Act revision as it has consistently led the fight to legalize online gambling and sports betting for nearly a decade. The DOJ’s recent rulings would completely undermine all that time and effort. But the Garden State is hardly the only state with a dog in this fight.
Recently, the State of Michigan filed its own suit against the DOJ and was quickly joined in amicus by Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Delaware, Colorado, Rhode Island, Virginia, Idaho, Vermont, Alaska, Mississippi and Washington D.C.
All of these lawsuits will be pursuing two major goals. First and foremost, they’ll be looking to get the DOJ to roll back its interpretation of the Wire Act to include only sports betting. They’ll also be looking to the DOJ to justify its sudden and totally unexplained decision to re-wire the Wire Act in the first place.
In short, this is a legal battle that’s both just getting started and picking up steam at an incredible pace.