Nessel moves to shield lottery revenue for schools

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    Attorney General Dana Nessel is leading an effort with an amicus brief opposing a U.S. Department of Justice’s opinion that involves all types of bets and wagers in the federal Wire Act’s prohibitions.

    Nessel said that more than $900 million in annual funding for Michigan schools is at stake.

    Dana Nessel

    She opposes the Department of Justice’s Jan. 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, she said.

    “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.”

    Twelve jurisdictions joined Michigan in the brief, which was filed on Monday, in support of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission in two consolidated cases in the New Hampshire federal district court: New Hampshire Lottery Commission v. Department of Justice and NeoPollard Interactive LLC and Pollard Banknote Limited v. Department of Justice.

    The New Hampshire lawsuit asks 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, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

    Ken Coleman
    Ken Coleman reports on Southeast Michigan, education, civil rights and voting rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.

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