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Online Casino News - March, 2008

iMEGA 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.

The positive 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".


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