The case concerned a letter from the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), titled “Reconsidering Whether the Wire Act Applies to Non-Sports Gambling”.
The letter examined the Interstate Wire Act of 1961, which states that using “a wire communication facility for the transmission in interstate or foreign commerce of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest” is illegal.
In 2011, the OLC had issued an opinion clarifying that this only applied to sports bets and not to other forms of gambling such as online lottery sales, multi-state lotteries such as Powerball and Mega Millions or inter-state shared liquidity poker.
However, in 2018, the OLC issued its new letter, which said that the Act was “not uniformly limited to gambling on sporting events or contests”. Instead, it said only the portion referring to “assisting in the placing of bets or wagers” was limited just to sports.
However, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission and its supplier NeoPollard – concerned that the interpretation would make online lottery sales illegal – both challenged this in the state’s district court.