On Friday, August 16, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) officially filed a Notice of Appeal in the civil case that it recently lost to the New Hampshire Lottery Commission (NHLC) over the reinterpretation of the 1961 Wire act opinion. The Notice of Appeal was filed by the DOJ, led by Attorney General William Barr to Judge Paul J. Barbadoro who issued the previous ruling on the issue.
Judge Barbadoro said that he expected the case to eventually get to the US Supreme court and, true to that statement, the Department of Justice has intentions of filing the appeal with the US First Circuit Court of Appeals. However, nothing will happen for the next couple of months since the First Circuit Court of Appeals will not be in session until October.
Clearly, the Department of Justice is not willing to reverse its belief that the 1961 Wire Act still applied to all forms of interstate online gambling including those that involve temporary rerouting of data across state borders. The filing of the Notice of Appeal was not totally unexpected especially considering the fact that the government will not have to incur any costs – the taxpayers are the ones who will ultimately foot the bill.
Expected but Certainly Unwarranted
To begin with, the chances of the department’s appeal succeeding on its merits seem to be quite slim and this alone makes the motivations behind the move very questionable. In fact, it further reaffirms speculations that the appeal is a politically-motivated move that is being pushed by anti-online gambling casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.
According to iDEA Growth, a trade group representing all sectors of the mobile gaming industry, the Department of Justice should withdraw the appeal since it is a political move and it is totally unwarranted.
“The Department’s action, while hardly unexpected, is certainly unwarranted. DOJ generally files appeals of adverse district court decisions as a matter of course. We hope that, rather than engaging in a protracted, expensive and ultimately unsuccessful legal fight, the Department will take this opportunity to negotiate a settlement which will focus the Wire Act and DOJ’s enforcement resources on the right targets – the unlicensed illegal offshore Internet gambling operators who do not create jobs or tax revenue in the U.S. and do not appropriately protect consumers,” said Jeff Ifrah, the founder of iDEA Growth.
While there is a lot of optimism that the appeal won’t make any reasonable strides even at the First Circuit Court of Appeals. However, it goes without saying that the move has cast a shadow over the growth of online gambling in the country.