N.H. Lottery Wins A Court Decision Over Online Ticket Sales

Jun 3, 2019

The New Hampshire Lottery Commission is celebrating Monday’s victory in a lawsuit against the Trump Administration over the legality of online lottery sales.

The case centers on a surprise opinion released by the Office of Legal Counsel in November 2018 that said online lottery ticket sales violated the 1961 Wire Act. That opinion reversed a 2011 memo that cleared the way for online lottery sales.

New Hampshire, which is one of a handful of states that offers online sales, filed a legal challenge in federal court. In a 63-page order released Monday, Judge Paul Barbadoro ruled that the Wire Act only applies to sports wagering and not to games of chance, again clearing the way for online lottery ticket sales.

“We are extremely pleased with the court’s decision, which represents a victory for the New Hampshire Lottery, state lotteries across the country and the revenue they provide to their communities,” said Charlie McIntyre, executive director of New Hampshire Lottery, in a statement.

New Hampshire generates approximately $5 million annually from online sales.

During oral arguments in the case earlier this year, lottery officials warned that the courts could broadly interpret the November opinion to prohibit popular multi-state games including Powerball and Mega Millions, since those drawings rely on communication between states.

Those fears, for now at least, are put aside. It isn’t clear if the federal government will appeal.

The judge denied the Department of Justice’s motion to dismiss the suit, which argued that it had no intention of bringing legal action against states that continued to sell lottery tickets.