Date set for next step in Wire Act-Poker fight
A lawsuit pitting the Department of Justice against states’ rights continues at a snail’s pace
There’s been a little bit of movement in a lawsuit that puts the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the defensive as it is forced to explain its position on the Federal Wire Act and how it applies to online gaming, including poker. After the department suddenly decided its rules should be enforced differently earlier this year, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission (NHLC) stepped in to lead a charge designed to put the DOJ in its place, but not much has happened since then. With the latest news surfacing at the end of last week, there is finally some movement, even if it is just a single step and not any big leap in the DOJ being put back in its place.
The DOJ and Attorney General William Barr have to submit their briefs and all accompanying paperwork no later than November 12 to the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. From there, the NHLC, along with the myriad of other state lotteries that subsequently joined the suit, will have 30 days to respond. The DOJ will then be given an opportunity to counter that response, with a 21-day window provided.
After all the back and forth is complete, the First Circuit court will put everything in order, give all the documents a little bit of attention and then assign a date for oral arguments to be heard. Both sides will have to appear before a panel of three judges in order to plead their cases and seek the court’s intervention.
Based on the timeframes for the briefs and counter-briefs and counter-counter-briefs to be filed, and the fact that oral arguments are typically heard sometime during the first week of any given month, it will most likely be January – at the earliest – before any definitive progress is made. Given the fact that the DOJ has already been shown to have overstepped its limits by a federal judge, the court proceedings seem to be a waste of time and resources and it would be much simpler if someone could simply force the DOJ to play nicely or leave the ballpark.