iMEGA Wins Online Gambling Case Against US DoJ and UIGEA
The long awaited outcome of the case The Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA) brought against the United States Department of Justice has finally been released by residing Judge Mary L. Cooper. The ruling declared iMEGA's standing as legitimate and threw out the United States' claim that iMEGA should have no legal standing.
iMEGA claimed in the suit that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), a Bill snuck on to a must pass Port Security Bill by then Senator Bill Frist in the final moments of the 2006 senate sessions, infringes on the rights and freedoms of iMEGA's many clients. The US claimed that iMEGA's clients have not yet been harmed in any way by the UIGEA, and contended therefore that iMEGA had no grounds to bring this case to court. Judge Cooper ruled that iMEGA's clients may possibly be harmed by the UIGEA and thus they do have legal standing to challenge the new law.
According to iMEGA's lead council, Eric M. Bernstein, Esq., the ruling by Judge Cooper also upholds the idea that certain online gambling activity is only illegal in states that specifically declare it so.
"Judge Cooper's ruling holds that, even with the passage of UIGEA, online gambling is only illegal in states where a statute specifically says it is," Bernstein said.
Further explanation of the ruling came from the chairman of iMEGA, Joe Brennan Jr. "iMEGA is very pleased that the Court recognized our standing and the weaknesses in UIGEA," Brennan Jr. said, "Judge Cooper found that banks, credit card companies and other payment system instruments are exempt from criminal sanctions under UIGEA, significantly undercutting UIGEA's enforcement mechanism. Her ruling echoes the growing consensus of opinion that UIGEA is a fundamentally flawed statute."
The ruling, however, was not all good news for iMEGA as their claims that the UIGEA violated their clients' free speech rights were regarded as not true, according the Judge.
"The acceptance of a financial transfer is not speech," Judge Cooper wrote in her ruling. "As the UIGEA does not impact expression, it does not come within the purview of the First Amendment."
iMEGA plans on appealing that portion of the ruling.
"We believe Judge Cooper missed the opportunity to affirm Americans' online privacy rights and we plan to appeal to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals," Bernstein said.
The Judge also ruled against iMEGA on their claims that the UIGEA violates WTO rules, and that the UIGEA violates ex post facto statutes. The ex post facto argument by iMEGA states that the UIGEA can harm its members by charging them with crimes prior to the law passing, but the Judge ruled that the UIGEA does not demand retroactive implementation.
iMEGA also sued the DoJ over the UIGEA claiming that it violated tenth amendment rights. However, the Judge ruled that the Tenth Amendment only applies to states' rights and holds no merit by individuals.
Overall, the ruling by Judge Cooper is being seen as victory for the online gambling community according to iMEGA.
"Her honor's decision significantly undercuts the federal government's argument that UIGEA is a well-drafted, effective and enforceable law," Bernstein concluded.
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