ast October, the UIGEA made it illegal for financial institutions to handle transactions between US residents and online gambling businesses, effectively blocking most US residents from playing poker online.
The lawsuit requests Temporary Restraints to Halt Enforcement of the UIGEA and to Resume Internet Gambling. It also names the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Reserve in the case.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, outlines how the UIGEA infringes upon basic constitutional rights and sets a dangerous precedent for I-commerce by criminalizing the transmission of money if the end result is illegal in some unspecified place.
The injunction, if granted, will prevent the government from enforcing the UIGEA and pave the way for Internet gambling to resume pending further order of the court.
"The purpose of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act is to prevent Americans from engaging in their fundamental rights to conduct their lives in the manner they wish to live it - to be free from the government imposing public morality in the privacy of one’s home", says Eric M. Bernstein, Esq., attorney for iMEGA.
The lawsuit also seeks to stop the enforcement of the UIGEA based on the recent ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on a final appeal which found the United States in contempt of WTO treaty obligations regarding Internet gambling (click here for related article).
A U.S. Trade Representative spokesman recently said the United States would not appeal the ruling in favor of Antigua and Barbuda, the Caribbean nation which won the WTO case claiming the US discriminates against online gambling firms located outside of the USA.
Instead, the US will try to modify its treaty obligation to eliminate Internet gambling. The WTO ruling permits sanctions to be imposed against the US by ALL WTO members.
The Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association was established to be a voice of reason in Washington and around the world for the fair, equitable, and rational governance of interactive Internet commerce and communications.
Edward Leyden, President of iMEGA, hopes the lawsuit will open the eyes of Legislators encouraging regulation and taxation of Internet gaming. Without transparency, American consumers who gamble online are left without standards of practice or consumer protections.
"Two major benefits come immediately from U.S. recognition and regulation of Internet gaming; transparency and tax revenues," said Leyden. "As with the U.S. financial markets, transparency assures that broad access to relevant data and the balancing forces of a free market all operate to maintain fairness and prevent corruption."
"Similarly, in this age of a yawning federal ’tax gap,’" he continued, "US taxation of Internet gaming transactions and companies could generate, more than us$ 20 billion during the next several years- all while saving federal law enforcement dollars for the fight against terrorism and other dire issues."