Attorney General Curtis Hill joined a group of 24 other attorneys general in expressing concern over a sweeping legal opinion that may negatively impact state-run and multi-state lotteries, including Mega Millions and Powerball.
The letter, sent late Thursday to U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, argues the federal government’s new legal opinion could reach beyond the realms of sports gambling and into areas traditionally controlled by the states, potentially jeopardizing in-state lotteries.
State-run and multi-state lotteries are a major source of revenue that represents billions of dollars in state funding used for vital state services. Losing these programs would negatively affect education initiatives, services for seniors and infrastructure projects.
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. That reality, combined with the increasingly interstate nature of internet and cellular transmissions, may mean conduct that was long understood to be legal now invites exposure to severe criminal penalties. The new interpretation reversed the U.S. Department of Justice’s prior, 2011 legal opinion, which prohibited only interstate transmission of information regarding sporting events or contests. The coalition’s letter seeks a meeting with Attorney General Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein. It also asks for an extension of Rosenstein’s initial 90-day compliance window for an additional 90 days, until or beyond Aug. 13. An extension would provide time for states to meet with the Justice Department and their vendors to enhance each state’s ability to safeguard state services and its citizens.
Indiana joined 23 other states and the District of Columbia in the letter to to U.S. Attorney General Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.