iMEGA vs. UIGEA Now In Appellate CourtBy: Rick Balding, Wednesday June 24th 2009
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The Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA) has been on the forefront in the legal fight against the ban on online casino gambling. It pioneered the first suit against the UIGEA, which it lost in the District Court. Now its appeal in the US 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals is coming up for hearing. The Philadelphia court has announced that it has fixed July 7 for oral arguments from the lawyers of iMEGA and the US Department of Justice (DoJ).
The three-judge panel that will preside over the proceedings will consist of Judge Dolores Korman Sloviter, a Carter appointee; Judge Thomas L. Ambro, a Clinton appointee and Judge Kent A. Jordan, a George W. Bush appointee. iMEGA will be represented by Eric M. Bernstein and Stephen A. Saltzburg. Bernstein had represented iMEGA in the District Court as well. Saltzburg is a professor at the George Washington University School of Law and former deputy attorney-general of the United States. The three defendants, the DoJ, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Reserve, will be represented by Nicholas J. Bagley and Jacqueline E. Coleman of the DoJ’s civil division in Washington.
iMEGA would be fighting the case mainly on grounds of the UIGEA being void for vagueness. It would try to introduce examples of the unclear interpretation of the UIGEA that have come to light after the case was filed. The most prominent of these is the blocking by credit card companies of purchases of state lottery tickets online. The DoJ would try to prevent this evidence being used on the grounds that it did not exist prior to the filing of the case.
In the District Court though iMEGA lost the case, it won a moral victory. It was given standing as a representative of the online gambling industry despite the best efforts of the DoJ to keep it out. It is because of that permission that iMEGA has represented the online gambling industry and specific online gambling operators subsequently. The most recent of these was in the matter of the state of Minnesota. iMEGA was able to convince the state authorities to rescind its order to block Internet access to several online gaming sites. The earlier Kentucky domain name seizure case is in the Kentucky Supreme Court. iMEGA had filed its brief last month. The state filed its rebuttal brief last week, though a day late. Now the Kentucky Supreme Court has to decide if it wants to hear oral arguments.
This time round in the Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia iMEGA is confident of a favorable judgment. iMEGA chairman Joe Brennan Jr. said, "This law will finally have to stand on it’s own two feet in court, free from politics and all other outside influences. We feel very confident that when the judges take a look at the law, they will see just how defective it is, and they will overturn it."
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