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iGaming opponents expect Wire Act case to reach SCOTUS


One of the leading opponents of the expansion of online gaming in the US said it is “encouraged” by the Department of Justice’s appeal against the ruling that set aside its revised stance on the Wire Act.

The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling also predicted that the matter is likely to go beyond the Court of Appeals, predicting the Supreme Court will ultimately decide whether the Wire Act applies to sports betting or all forms of gambling.

Last week the DoJ filed a notice of appeal with the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, confirming that it will fight to overturn a judgement handed down by New Hampshire District Court Juge Paul Barbadoro in June.

After the DoJ’s revised opinion, issued by the Office of Legal Counsel in January this year, claimed the Act applied to all forms of gambling, the New Hampshire Lottery challenged the Department in court. This ultimately saw Barbadoro rule that a 2011 opinion, which stated the 1961 legislation only applied to sports betting, was the more accurate interpretation.

In doing so, he effectively rendered the revised stance invalid in favour of the earlier reading. Few expected this to be the end of the matter, and they were proved right when the DoJ confirmed its intention to appeal.

A spokesperson for the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling said it supported the appeal against Barbadoro’s “misguided” ruling, and was eager to participate in the process.

“The Coalition remains confident that our position is correct legally – and from a policy standpoint,” Parker Mantell said. “American families do not want casinos available on their kids’ mobile devices 24-7, especially now that online casinos are offering cartoon and fairytale-themed games, and advertisements for online gaming are appearing on websites targeted at children.”

Mantell went on to highlight comments from Barbadoro suggesting the matter would not be resolved on appeal and was likely to progress through the justice system to the Supreme Court.

“That now appears more likely, with the expansion of online gambling paused until then,” Mantell said. “In the interim, we will continue our fight to protect at-risk populations from the dangers of internet gambling.”