Lottery Director Warns N.H. Could Lose Millions Pending Outcome of Federal Lawsuit

Mar 26, 2019

Charles McIntyre, executive director of the New Hampshire Lottery.
Credit NHPR File Photo

The state's top lottery official is warning lawmakers that New Hampshire could lose millions if it doesn't prevail in its lawsuit against the federal government. 

The issue hinges on a new interpretation of the federal wire act.

When the Trump Administration advised states that all betting involving the internet -- not simply sports betting -- violates the wire act, it didn't just reverse a Department of Justice guideline from 2011, it also put millions in state revenue at risk.

How much is an open question. The state is expecting to lose at least $5 million this year on online lottery sales.

But depending on how the federal guideline gets interpreted, all lottery revenue -- and that's projected to be $192 million over the next two years -- could be lost, according to Charles McIntyre, director of the New Hampshire Lottery.

"In the worst case scenario you'd have no lottery," he said. "And actually, there are other revenue streams as well. So actually, it would be more than 192 million, significantly more."

The state's challenge to the federal guideline will get a court hearing next month.