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AG Hood seeks to protect state lottery

Attorney General Jim Hood. Photo by News Mississippi

Attorney General Jim Hood joined a group of 25 attorneys general to protect state lotteries. The group expressed their concern over a legal opinion that may negatively impact state-run and multi-state lotteries, including Mega Millions and Powerball.

The letter, was sent last week to U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and argues the federal government’s new legal opinion- “Reconsidering Whether the Wire Act Applies to Non-Sports Gambling”- could reach beyond the realms of sports gambling and into areas traditionally controlled by the states, potentially jeopardizing in-state lotteries.

The bipartisan letter contends the new opinion could call into question interstate transmissions related to all bets or wagers, even where fully authorized under relevant state law.

The new interpretation reversed the U.S. Department of Justice’s 2011 legal opinion, which prohibited only interstate transmission of information regarding sporting events or contests.

“This change could potentially have devastating consequences for the lottery Mississippi has finally established,” said AG Hood. “Many national and international companies operate in our state, and this reversal creates confusion for state regulators to determine if the companies comply with the Wire Act. Our lottery will fund much-needed infrastructure and education, and this opinion could place the future of online gaming and lottery in Mississippi in the hands of the federal government.”

The coalition’s letter asks for a meeting with AG Barr and Deputy AG Rosenstein and for an extension of Rosenstein’s initial 90-day compliance window, until or beyond August 13. An extension would provide time for states to meet with the Justice Department and for state vendors to address the issue.

Mississippi joined the West Virginia-led letter with attorneys general in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

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