DOJ Extends Deadline for Implementation of Wire Act Reinterpretation

We previously reported that, as a result of the 2018 Opinion, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein issued a memorandum on January 15, 2019 stating that Department of Justice (“DOJ”) attorneys should refrain for ninety (90) days  from pursuing any actions against persons and businesses that relied on the 2011 interpretation in order to allow them “time to bring their operations into compliance with federal law.”

On February 28, 2019, Rosenstein issued another memorandum stating the original April 15, 2019 deadline would be extended an additional sixty (60) days to June 14, 2019. According to the memorandum, “this extension of time is an internal exercise of prosecutorial discretion and does not create a safe harbor for violations of the Wire Act.”

As reported in a prior blog, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission filed suit against the DOJ on February 15, 2019 in the US District Court for the District of New Hampshire. The extension comes one week after various media outlets reported that the judge presiding over the suit, US  District Judge Paul Barbadoro of New Hampshire, strongly urged the DOJ to consider an extension of the delay. During a recent conference call with attorneys involved with the suit, Judge Barbadoro questioned DOJ attorney Steven Myers about whether the 2018 Opinion now prohibits all state lottery operations. Myers responded that the 2018 Opinion addressed only whether the Wire Act is limited to sports betting, and that he could not say anything more than what the 2018 Opinion stated.

If you would like to discuss the Wire Act or have us conduct a risk analysis of your business model in light of the 2018 Opinion, please contact the authors Karl Rutledge at krutledge@lrrc.com, Glenn Light at glight@lrrc.com, or Mary Tran at mtran@lrrc.com.