Legal opinion could have ‘devastating consequences’ for Mississippi lottery

Legal opinion could have ‘devastating consequences’ for Mississippi lottery

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - A federal legal opinion is putting every state lottery in jeopardy. But until there’s official guidance, it’s business as usual for Mississippi’s lottery corporation.

The Department of Justice is reconsidering what types of gambling the federal Wire Act applies to. But why?

“What those seek that are really pushing this sort of technical application of the Wire Act is to eliminate so-called internet based sports betting,” explained Gerard Gibert.

But as Vice Chairman of the Mississippi Lottery Corporation Board explains, there’s now more of a microscope on more than just sports betting. Other types cross state lines---especially with the use of technology.

“The challenge is that the DOJ issued an opinion that could potentially extend the application of that to state lotteries," said Vice Chairman of the Board Gerard Gibert. "If that were the case, it theoretically could shut down all the state lotteries.”

Attorney General Jim Hood signed off on a letter to the DOJ with other Attorneys General in an attempt to protect state lotteries.

“This change could potentially have devastating consequences for the lottery Mississippi has finally established,” General Hood said in a statement. “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.”

Attorneys told the board the matter is likely to go to the Supreme Court, but until there’s a final answer, the board continues to press forward. On Monday they heard from two banks vying to provide banking services for the lottery corporation. They’ll make a final selection next week. And they’ll conduct interviews and make a decision on a corporation president on April 29th. As for the timeline on being able to buy tickets, it’s moving forward as planned.

“We still believe we will be selling tickets by the end of the third quarter, sometime in the fourth quarter,” said Gibert.

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