The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) looks to be in for a rough year in 2009, as Congressman Barney Frank intends to repeal it with new legislation in the coming weeks. But the UIGEA will also need to stand up to a court challenge in the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, as the Interactive Media & Gaming Association (iMEGA) has every intention of obtaining a restraining order against the UIGEA because of its infringement upon the freedoms of Americans.
iMEGA began its case in September of 2007, and though the courts have recognized the organization as having standing in the case, it has been pushed through to the appeals process in order to be heard. Now it seems that iMEGA will have another day in court on Monday, July 6, as iMEGA v. Attorney-General USA, et al has been scheduled on its merits, meaning there will be a ruling on the fundamental issue in the case. At least one week prior to the hearing, both sides will be advised of their opportunity or lack thereof to present oral arguments.
The U.S. Department of Justice has done its best to deter and crush the case, especially after iMEGA filed a motion to include information about “over-blocking” of state lottery transactions in New Hampshire and North Dakota by credit card companies in compliance with the overzealous UIGEA. Though the Department of Justice attorneys filed for a dismissal of the motion, the Court of Appeals has decided to move forward with the case and render a decision in July.
While there is a chance that the iMEGA case could experience a date change - though only within a week of the July 6 date - at the hands of the Court clerk, the mere fact that the case will be heard in the near future is a good sign for iMEGA.
As noted by Joe Brennan Jr, Chairman of iMEGA, “We’re very happy the Court is moving forward on this, and we’re confident the Court will consider the real-world effect of the law, regardless of the DOJ’s opposition.”
The perseverance of iMEGA with this case is in line with its mission. Founded in 2007, the organization is dedicated to the continued growth and innovation of the internet, and its involvement in the challenge of the UIGEA law sets a precedent that the invasive and unclear law is harmful to personal freedoms as they pertain to the internet. While the poker industry continues to fight for online gaming rights in particular, iMEGA has taken a broader stance on the issue with its filing for a restraining order against the UIGEA.
If iMEGA loses its battle in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, the case may be further appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Based on the outcome of the July 6 hearing, lawyers for iMEGA may need to push forward and ask the highest court in the land to look at the merits of the UIGEA.
The current year could be a key one for the UIGEA opposition in all its forms.