Pushing Back: iDEA Growth Files Suit to Challenge DOJ Opinion

Yesterday, Ifrah Law filed suit in New Hampshire against William Barr, in his capacity as Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice. The suit challenges a January DOJ Opinion that threatens to disrupt America’s rapidly growing online gaming industry. Link to press statement here.

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 U.S. Department of Justice (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. On February 25, 2019, Ifrah Law filed suit against the DOJ in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire on iDEA Growth’s behalf, which strongly challenges the decision [See filings below]. Fortifying our efforts was a suit filed against the DOJ in the same court by NeoPollard Interactive LLC, the technology and service provider of the New Hampshire state iLottery system. Relatedly, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission itself filed a challenge against the DOJ.

By the end of February, we hope that the Judge in New Hampshire will fold our suit in with the NH Lottery’s suit, effectively making our organization a party to that lawsuit. 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 three related iDEA Growth filings by clicking the links below.

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]