Could The Wire Act Of 1961 Affect Online Lottery Sales?

  • The New Hampshire Lottery and their online platform are taking fire again from the Wire Act of 1961, as has happened in the past.
  • The Department of Justice is looking into the case that has gone back and forth over the years in terms of opinion on what’s right.

CONCORD, N.H. - There has been some confusion as to whether or not the Wire Act of 1961 could or even should affect the sale of lottery tickets online.

States such as New Hampshire that offer this option to residents aren’t in the masses but are still restricted by law.

The Case Of The New Hampshire Lottery

New Hampshire is not the first online state lottery to want assurances that their business is not going against any federal law.

Other states in the past have tried and failed to inquire about the legalities of moving forward with internet lottery sales. This case is different though, as New Hampshire has already established a lucrative and popular internet platform for their lottery.

And that’s where the New Hampshire Lottery vs. the federal government case makes its way into the spotlight.

When the NH Lottery first began their online business, they won the case which allowed them to open up shop but the Department of Justice changed their decision by one judge’s opinion.

“In 2018, they flipped and said it wasn't OK, and everyone had 90 days to comply,” said Charlie McIntyre, New Hampshire Lottery executive director. “We went online a few months before the decision and have been doing quite well with it.”

When that change of heart came about, the lottery went up to bat again asking for an immediate overturn of the decision because their lottery funds school systems and taking away their online platform would cause a loss of millions for their schools.

They won that case, reversing the decision of the decision of the DOJ.

"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 at the time. "New Hampshire stood up, took action and won -- all to protect public education in our state."

The latest case brings them back to the beginning again. Some people are wanting the 2018 DOJ decision to come back while the overturn of that decision remains because the lottery is still legally selling tickets online.

The Wire Act Of 1961

The Wire Act of 1961 would forbid internet gambling of any kind from happening.

Despite this Act still being in control, the Department of Justice has looked the other way countless times because the law feels irrelevant with modern times.

There have been many people that have spoken out in repealing the Wire Act as it no longer holds weight in this day and age when technology has gotten better and better and is the way most if not all business is done.

What’s Next With New Hampshire And Online Lottery

The Department of Justice is certainly looking into the case about going back to the 2018 decision.

However, at this time, there is no action being taken to stop the New Hampshire Lottery from continuing their internet sales.

In addition to that, the DOJ has made it clear that should by some circumstance they choose to cease lottery online sales, there will be no persecution of anyone in any state that has operated such businesses prior to a new ruling.

Still, the entire case is a slippery slope at best.

If and when the Department of Justice decides to move forward and chooses to stop online lottery businesses, they would then open up cases for other internet and mobile gambling platforms that are legal nationwide.

They cannot take away one gambling business platform based on the Wire Act of 1961 and not open the door to take away all other forms of online gaming with it if they are in fact following the rules of the Act.