Sunday, September 30, 2007

iMEGA Awaits Ruling in TRO Motion

[Cal here, on weekend duty---]

iMEGA's court battle to have a restraining order issued against implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act continued this week with the hearing of oral arguments in the case they've brought against the US government. The judge in the matter took the arguments on advisement, and her ruling on the initial motion --- not necessarily the case in general --- should be expected within 30 days. Here's the statement iMEGA put up on its website:

iMEGA Awaits Judge’s Action on UIGEA Challenge

New Jersey Court takes Issue under Advisement; decision on Motion to Dismiss within 30 Days

After oral arguments were entertained in the matter of iMEGA v Gonzales, et al, on Wednesday, Sept 26th, iMEGA president Edward J. Leyden had this to say:

“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.

We agree that children and problem gamblers need protection. 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.

UIGEA passed in the waning minutes of the 109th Congress with very little input from members of Congress and is 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.

These regulations, if promulgated, would stifle online innovation and commerce; inadequately protect children by failing to ensure adequate safeguards; have a chilling effect 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.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Will iMEGA, against all expectations, be successful in its efforts to have the UIGEA ruled unconstitutional? The Wednesday hearing was but the opening blow in the battle the organization can be expected to wager against the US federal government, given some of the high-powered legal help the fledgling group has brought to bear on the matter.

One of the ongoing questions here is the timeliness of the iMEGA challenge, since the US's primary argument in seeking to have the case thrown out remains that the case is unripe; since the regulations called for under the UIGEA have not been issued, no one can yet bring suit. (IANAL, but that claim seems spurious if taken in absence of other factors.)

Those long-rumored guidelines were also a bit of news again this past week, with the word 'rumor' part of the mix. Word has had these guidelines ready to be issued for public comment, but despite a brief mention of the UIGEA itself in the Federal Register, the regulations (if they have indeed been completed), have not been made public. While those guidelines were never expected to be ready by the 270-day guideline mandated within the UIGEA, their absence to date is at least a nominally good sign.

It's even possible to wonder whether the iMEGA challenge is among the reasons for the delay in the issuing of the regulations, since attempting to deny iMEGA's status for bringing its case, based on the regulations not having been issued yet, is one of the gambits the federal government is trying. There's little doubt that the feds would enjoy a 'clear board' in bringing the legislation live, and the mere presence of iMEGA's challenge complicates that... which is, in turn, one of the points brought up in iMEGA's comments on their lawsuit ever since its initial filing.

With legislative efforts at the federal level stalled in Congressional committees, the iMEGA challenge has become, by default, the primary hope for a coherent domestic challenge to the UIGEA. International efforts through the World Trade Organization carry a far more painful financial blow to the US, but the fact remains that without a domestic effort to overturn or throw out the UIGEA, it will remain on the books in some form.

No comments: