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iMEGA has first day in court against UIGEA
The Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association had its first day in court today as the Honorable Judge Mary Cooper heard arguments for a temporary restraining order against the implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
According to Joe Brennan Jr., iMEGA founder, Judge Cooper didn't issue a decision from the bench today after hearing arguments from both iMEGA and the U.S. government.
"The government spent most of its time insisting that the speech and conduct (in this case, gambling online) is not protected speech, but rather commercial speech, and that individuals were not at risk from criminal and civil charges," Brennan said.
"But our team pointed to the area of the statute that explicitly stated that 'any person' may indeed be in jeopardy."
Judge Cooper is now planning to review the case and the arguments and will issue a decision within the next 30 days.
The restraining order would prevent the U.S. government from moving forward and implementing the UIGEA while the lawsuit file by iMEGA against the online gambling law is processing.
"Based on the decision of the U.S. District Court earlier today, iMEGA eagerly awaits the action of the Honorable Mary L. Cooper and the Court," said Edward Leyden, iMEGA president.
iMEGA's argument is that the UIGEA violates citizens' constitutional rights because it prevents Americans from engaging in their fundamental right to conduct their lives in the manner they wish to live.
In a previous statement, iMEGA said that Americans have the right "to be free from the government imposing public morality in the privacy of one's home."
The UIGEA does this by not allowing people to make transaction from their banks or credit cards to an online gambling site.
The intent of the lawsuit put forth by iMEGA against the lawsuit is to encourage regulation and taxation of online gambling instead of the current efforts to ban the industry.
"We agree that children and problem gamblers need protection," Leyden said.
"We know that technology is available that will accomplish this. This law - in addition to being defective and unconstitutional - will not provide greater protections. In fact, it will only make these groups more vulnerable."
Leyden describes the UIGEA as being passed in the "waning minutes" of the 109th Congress with very little input from members of Congress. Not only was it pushed through at the last minute, it's also a misguided attempt to regulate content developed for the Internet.
"Although UIGEA is purportedly designed to limit illegal Internet gambling, it falls woefully short of having the ability to accomplish that purpose and fails the American people on a number of fronts," Leyden said.
He points out that the regulations, if officially put in place, will stifle online innovation and commerce; inadequately protect children by failing to ensure adequate safeguards; infringe on the privacy rights of individuals; and potentially lead to the loss of thousands of U.S. white-collar jobs.
"iMEGA strongly suggests an immediate congressional review of the numerous pieces of legislation that address the issue of online gaming and recommends passage of new laws that ensure safe Internet use, protect U.S. Internet leadership and promote the Internet as a bastion of innovation," Leyden said.