A strict interpretation of the rules could have hefty financial consequences for Georgia and other lotteries. An Associated Press analysis found that several states are in danger of losing at least $220 million in annual lottery profits if the opinion is imposed. An end to Powerball and other games would cost billions more.
The New Hampshire Lottery sued the Justice Department in February seeking to reverse the opinion, and about 15 states have joined the challenge. Georgia is not among them.
Online sales have become increasingly important for the Georgia Lottery, which sells some games tickets over the internet and offers a series of interactive “Diggi Games” available only online. Lotteries also often use online services to process payments, run communications and market games.
State officials were not immediately clear on the decision's fiscal fallout in Georgia, where the lottery transferred a record-setting $1.1 billion for pre-kindergarten and HOPE scholarship programs in 2018.
But the letter by Kemp and Carr said a ban on online lottery sales “would devastate the benefits provided to citizens in Georgia and across the nation through state lotteries.”
“In light of these concerns, we seek assurance from the department that state lotteries are not implicated by the 2018 opinion’s interpretation of the Wire Act,” they wrote.
“We therefore respectfully request clarification that the department does not consider the activities of state lotteries, including the transmitting of lottery wages via electronic routing across state lines, to be in violation of the Wire Act.”
- The Associated Press contributed to this report.