Online Gaming

Last Updated: August 13, 2021

The Issue

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice dramatically re-interpreted the 1961 Wire Act, which prohibited online gambling. Under this unprecedented decision, the DOJ declared that the Wire Act only prohibits online sports betting but does not prohibit other online gambling (including lotteries). This re-interpretation undermined congressional actions that had been taken during the fifty years in which DOJ took the position that the Wire Act made all gambling over the wires (and online) illegal. In January 2018 the DOJ reversed its 2011 reinterpretation. The New Hampshire Lottery challenged the DOJ’s decision in federal court winning rulings at the Federal district court level in 2019 and the 1st Circuit level in 2021 invalidating the 2018 decision.

Retail Impact

Lottery ticket sales generate substantial in-store foot traffic and sales. Lottery customers purchase additional items when they purchase their lottery tickets that are essential to the health of convenience stores. In fact, on 95% of their store visits, lottery customers purchased at least one other product in addition to their lottery purchases.

NACS Position

NACS supports legislation or administrative action to restore the original intent of the Wire Act.