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Appeals Court Likely to Overturn UIGEA Says Trade Org

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Jan/29/2009
US Supreme Court

Joe Brennan, Jr., founder of the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association believes there is an excellent chance a U.S. Appeals Court could rule in its favor some time in the next few months.  iMEGA (see website here) is challenging the enforcement policies of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) passed in October of 2006, calling it "Unconstitutional".  The online gambling trade organization, which represents several dozen members, recently won a landmark appeal in the commonwealth of Kentucky to stop the seizure of 141 Internet gambling domain names including FullTiltPoker.com and PokerStars.com.

But it's an unrelated decision by a U.S. Supreme Court that has Brennan, Jr. more confident than ever.

Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court announced it would not review a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia (the same court where the iMEGA vs. U.S. Government matter is being heard) invalidating the Child Online Protection Act.  COPA would have required websites that commercially distribute pornography to take reasonable steps to keep minors (defined as children under the age of 18) away from smut.

"Again, the 3rd Circuit has shown why it may be the most important Court in the country when considering Internet rights and "digital civil liberties," Brennan, Jr. told Gambling911.com.

While the protection of children over the Internet is a concern of both the sex purveyor and online gambling industries, COPA was found to be too broad in its scope.

In its ruling, the Federal Appeals Court said COPA violates the First Amendment because filtering technologies and other parental control tools offer a less restrictive way to protect children from inappropriate content online. The court also ruled that the law is unconstitutionally overly broad and vague.

And this is precisely what Brennan, Jr. and iMEGA are arguing.

"Trying to draw a picture for people in the industry about how our suit actually has great potential for success is tough sometimes, but if people look at COPA and then at UIGEA, they can't help but see the parallels," Brennan said. "They can also take comfort from the fact that there is at least one kind of Internet content out there even more hated by social conservatives - porn! - and those guys are winning by fighting back in court."

Sources close to Gambling911.com suggest that the U.S. Government may wish to work closely with iMEGA in the not-so-distant future as a means of regulating the online gambling sector and capitalizing on the multi-billion dollar industry during rough economic times.

"Ideally, the United States would allow iMEGA members to accept bets from its citizens provided they receive a cut," our source, who declined to be identified, said. 

Brennan, Jr. would not comment on such an assertion but hinted a settlement agreement was always possible and that iMEGA's members would reap the rewards. 

"Anybody who is not on board (with us) will lose out," he said. 

Gambling911.com's source also suggested that iMEGA had been playing its cards right by not seeking financial compensation from the U.S. government and by refusing to take an "antagonistic" approach.

"We are about three years behind the porn industry in terms of Constitutional freedoms on the Net," our source said.  "iMEGA is following the same successful model used by adult entertainment companies to challenge ill-conceived legislation."

Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

 

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