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Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel Takes National Lead to Protect Lottery Revenue for Schools

LANSING – With more than $900 million dollars in annual funding for Michigan schools at stake, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel led the effort to file an amicus brief opposing the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) opinion that would encompass all types of bets and wagers in the federal Wire Act’s prohibitions.

Twelve jurisdictions joined Michigan in the brief, which was filed today in support of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission in two consolidated cases in the New Hampshire federal district court— New Hampshire Lottery Commission v. Dep’t. of Justice and NeoPollard Interactive LLC and Pollard Banknote Limited v. Dep’t. of Justice.   

“Like nearly every state lottery in this country, Michigan’s Lottery generates hundreds of millions of dollars every year to fund education,” said Nessel.  “Billions of dollars are generated annually across this country for critical governmental services including schools, senior citizens programs, first responders, and infrastructure programs.  This new interpretation of the law could have a dire effect on these programs by threatening their funding source.”

The jurisdictions oppose the Department of Justice’s January 14, 2019 opinion, which reverses its previous position that the Wire Act applied only to interstate wire communications of sports wagers.  The new opinion could threaten intrastate online lottery games offered by Michigan and other States.  The New Hampshire lawsuit is asking for a declaratory judgment that the Wire Act does not apply to state-conducted lotteries and requesting a permanent injunction against the DOJ from acting to enforce its new opinion.

Joining Michigan in the brief are: Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.