Case Against Online Gambling Ban Gets a Ruling
by Devon Chappell, News Staff Writer
March 7, 2008
The initial ruling on
Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association's
(iMEGA) court case against the U.S. government has been
given, and considering the nature and scope of the case,
should be considered a success for the online gambling
industry as a whole. Despite key elements of the case
being dismissed by District Judge Mary L. Cooper of New
Jersey, there were some positive developments in the
case, the greatest of which is that iMEGA was given the
right to appeal the Judge Cooper's decision.
Dating from last
year, iMEGA brought a lawsuit against the U.S.
government in response to the Unlawful Internet Gambling
Enforcement Act, which was passed as an attachment to a
port security bill, calling for a prohibition of online
gambling activities by blocking payment processors and
aggressively prosecuting online betting operators.
Lawyers for iMEGA argued that the law is in violation of
U.S. citizens' freedom of speech and is an outright
violation of privacy. And that certainly makes a good
point, the Department of Justice argued that since the
law has not been implemented and enforced yet, and has
not specifically affected members of the iMEGA, there
are no grounds for the lawsuit in the first place.
After well over
thirty days of deliberating the issue, Judge Cooper said
there was not sufficient evidence for here to block the
UIGEA from being enforced. Understandably, Judge Cooper
could not rule on the constitutional issues of the
lawsuit, nor could she pass judgment on whether the
UIGEA would even be effective at its desired ends
(another argument posed by iMEGA). She did, however, say
"Acceptance of a financial transfer is not speech. As
the UIGEA does not impact expression, it does not come
within the purview of the First Amendment".
Judge Cooper went
on to say, "the law was legally enacted" and that it did
not violate World Trade Organization rules. Perhaps
Judge Cooper should tell that to the WTO, where
sanctions against the U.S. are already in the making. Oh
wait. The U.S. has opted to pay billions in fines
instead. If that's not an admission of doing something
wrong, well then, I guess the U.S. government just likes
to give away U.S. taxpayer money.
development in the case is that Judge Cooper gave iMEGA
legal standing to challenge the constitutional aspects
of their argument at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals,
which an iMEGA spokesperson said they will be doing over
the course of the next two months. In the meantime,
enforcement of the UIGEA continues to proceed at an
embarrassing rate and U.S. citizens continue to gamble
at online casinos. This will certainly help iMEGA in
their case as to the effectiveness of what Congressman
Barney Frank calls, "the stupidest law ever passed".