Wire Act hearing set for April 11

The next chapter of the Wire Act saga – and with it the future of US poker sites online – begins on April 11 with a Wire Act hearing.

Arguments begin in the lawsuit as many states protest the Department of Justice (DOJ) and their new opinion on the Wire Act. Leading the way in the lawsuit is New Hampshire, which is why the arguments will be made in Concord in front of Judge Paul J. Barbadoro.

What is the Wire Act controversy?

For anyone that needs a refresher on the Wire Act mess, here goes. Earlier this year, the DOJ threw the online gambling industry nationwide into chaos by reversing a previous opinion on the Wire Act.

The Wire Act makes it illegal to transmit wagers across state lines electronically and was passed in 1961. The previous opinion found the Wire Act applies only to sports betting. Under the new opinion, the Wire Act now applies to all forms of betting and gambling.

This is bad news for states involved in inter-state compacts to share poker players and the interstate lottery. The lottery issue is why New Hampshire is involved. The state’s budget relies heavily on revenue from the state lottery, which could be disrupted or even killed under the new opinion.

Who else joined the Wire Act lawsuit?

Several other states have joined New Hampshire in the lawsuit, most notable New Jersey, which has interstate poker compacts to worry about and Michigan. Michigan is notable because joining them on their amicus bill are 11 other states with interstate lottery interests.

Charles McIntyre, the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission stated that he expects a decision to be made on the lawsuit by the end of May. This may seem like a fast turnaround for a court decision, which can sometimes take months or years.

McIntyre said he believes the decision will be quick partly because many of the state’s in the lawsuit need a speedy resolution to decide their own future. For example, New Hampshire’s next budget is due to be filed by the end of June.

Not knowing whether their lottery revenue is going to be impacted will have a major affect on what that budget will look like.