DOJ attempts to diffuse Wire Act lawsuit, fails

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein must have taken tap dancing at some point

As the Department of Justice (DOJ) prepares to defend itself against a lawsuit based on its reinterpretation of the Federal Wire Act, it has written a letter that its author believes will be enough to assuage the frustration of plaintiffs and bring an end to the federal case. As has happened numerous times in the past, the author, Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein, is just dancing around the subject and will most likely be proven to be wrong.

The lawsuit was initiated by New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Lottery before finding a lot of support from other states. Rosenstein sent his emo yesterday and tries to assert that the DOJ didn’t mean to include lotteries when it updated its stance on the Wire Act.

In other words, according to Rosenstein, online intrastate lotteries – a recognized form of gambling – are legal buy other forms of online gambling that could involve multiple states are still illegal. Interesting, given that the DOJ, in updating its opinion a few months ago, asserted that all forms of online gambling are illegal.

Rosenstein states in his letter, “The OLC [Office of Legal Counsel] opinion did not address whether the Wire Act applies to State lotteries and their vendors. The Department is now reviewing that question. Department of Justice attorneys should refrain from applying Section I 084(a) to State lotteries and their vendors, if they are operating as authorized by State law, until the Department concludes its review. If the Department determines that the Wire Act does apply to State lotteries or their vendors, then Department of Justice attorneys should extend the forbearance period for 90 days after the Department publicly announces this position. This would allow State lotteries and their vendors a reasonable time to conform their operations to federal law.”

Even if a judge were to toss the current lawsuit, there would be another one immediately in its place. One way or another Rosenstein and the DOJ are going to have to answer for their actions and the truth will be discovered.

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