iDEA Growth is actively involved in a case challenging a recent opinion issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) which threatens to disrupt America’s rapidly growing online gaming industry
In February 2019, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission and the technology and service provider for its iLottery system, NeoPollard, filed suit in New Hampshire against William Barr, in his capacity as Attorney General, and the DOJ. The suit challenges a January DOJ Opinion that threatens to bring online gaming activities within the scope of the Wire Act, which was previously interpreted to only cover sports betting. Ifrah Law has filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in that case and has sought to intervene as a plaintiff on behalf of iDEA Growth.
For the past eight years, state lotteries and online gaming groups have pursued their goals and invested in infrastructure based on the legal pathway supported by a 2011 DOJ Opinion – one expressly stating that the federal Wire Act’s prohibitions were limited to sports betting. This pathway has allowed online gaming to expand rapidly, bringing with it economic growth, jobs, and greater tax revenues for states.
Yet, on Jan. 14, 2019, the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel suddenly issued a new Opinion that reversed the Department’s earlier interpretation, declaring that the Wire Act prohibits all interstate wagering activity, not just sports betting. This new Opinion ignores years of judicial precedent at the appellate level, as well as dicta by the U.S. Supreme Court, which in its 2018 opinion in Murphy v. NCAA included a reference that the Wire Act prohibits interstate wagering on sporting events and contests only.
Proponents of online gaming – in particular, iDEA Growth – were not about to let such a stunning, unwarranted policy reversal go unanswered. As mentioned above, iDEA Growth is seeking to join the New Hampshite lawsuit as an intervening plaintiff. [See filings below]. The lawsuit is strongly challenging the DOJ’s Opinion, and although the New Hampshite Lottery Commission, NeoPollard, and other states including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan are joining in the fight, iDEA Growth is the only party advocating specifically on behalf of the iGaming industry.
Jeff Ifrah argued on behalf of iDEA Growth at a hearing in New Hampshire on April 11, 2019, during which the Court rejected the DOJ’s request to dismiss the case based on a recent memorandum from the Deputy Attorney General claiming that DOJ was still studying whether or not the Wire Act applied to lotteries and their vendors. iDEA’s motion to intervene as a plaintiff is still pending before the Court, and the Judge recognized at the hearing that there are interests that go beyond those of state lotteries – such as the iGaming industry – at stake in this case.
We trust that the New Hampshire Court will give appropriate weight to judicial precedent over political factors in making its decision – one that will critically impact a fast-growing industry that’s poised to offer significant economic benefits to states across the U.S.
You can access the five related iDEA Growth filings by clicking the links below.
iDEA Motion for Reconsideration [iDEA Motion for Reconsideration.PDF]
Amicus Curiae in Support of Plaintiffs [2019.03.08 iDEA Amicus Brief.PDF]
Emergency Motion to Intervene [19.02.25 Doc 12 – Motion to Intervene.PDF]
Memorandum of Support of Emergency Motion to Intervene [19.02.25 Doc 12-1 – MOL in Support of Motion to Intervene.PDF]
Complaint in Intervention [19.02.25 Doc 12-2 Exh. A – Complaint in Intervention.PDF]