iMEGA Files Brief to Halt UIGEA Enforcement, Hearing Date Set
The Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) has filed a brief in U.S. District Court (3rd District, N.J.) versus U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales supporting the group's request for a temporary restraining order against the enforcement of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). According to the fledgling group, the restraining order is being requested "in advance of a full court challenge on the Act's constitutionality."
A hearing date for iMEGA's case has been scheduled for September 4th.
The filing of the brief coincides with the conclusion of the 270-day period the UIGEA gave the Secretary of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and Attorney General Gonzales to prescribe regulations to banks, credit card companies, and other "designated payment systems" prohibiting clients' transactions with online gambling sites. With that deadline's passing, the handing down of those regulations — and thus the first instances of the UIGEA actually being enforced — could be imminent. The granting of the iMEGA's request would therefore mean a temporary halt to the Act's enforcement until the UIGEA's constitutionality could be fully considered.
The legal argument outlined in the 44-page brief rests on four points. First, the iMEGA contends that its grievance with the Attorney General meets the needed standard of review entitling the group to a preliminary injunction against the Act's enforcement. In other words, since the iMEGA's members could face criminal prosecution for violating the UIGEA — and since iMEGA contends the UIGEA will eventually be proven unconstitional when those cases go to court — the case is therefore "justiciable" or worthy of being settled in a court of law beforehand.
The group's subsequent points further explain iMEGA's contention that the UIGEA is unconstitutional. In its second point, the group argues the Act's restrictions against online gambling violate previously established legal guidelines regarding "consensual private conduct."
The group's third point takes on the UIGEA's "selective prohibitions," contending that its prohibitions do not represent the "least restrictive means" to regulate online gambling. In this part of the brief, iMEGA claims that current filtering software can effectively prevent minors from accessing online gambling sites. The UIGEA "strikes too broad, too deep, too wide into private conduct, legal in many areas," argues the group, "and therefore is unconstitutional, especially where technology can eliminate the 'public morality' concerns of the UIGEA's proponents without affecting those for whom private Internet gambling is legal."
Finally, iMEGA argues how the Act will necessarily produce inconsistent regulation of online gambling, as well as attempt to impose blanket restrictions nationwide in a manner that ignores individual states' laws regarding online gambling. According to the group, both of these consequences also render the UIGEA unconstitutional.
According to iMEGA founder Joe Brennan, Jr., the filing for a temporary restraining order "forces the government to respond" to the group's complaint in a necessarily timely fashion. "We are very confident about the merits of our request," adds Brennan.