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US DoJ Files Motion Opposing iMEGA's Attempt to Obtain Information on Lottery Ban


by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
April 16, 2009

              The U.S. Department of Justice has defended its position to withhold information regarding credit card companies having blocked online lottery ticket purchases – despite the fact that these transactions are exempted from the UIGEA’s ban on internet casino gambling. iMEGA filed a motion with the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals to have the information provided, which the DoJ has countered with a motion opposed the addition of such court records.

                iMEGA’s defense attorneys that call for the appeal of the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act), has consistently argued that the ban on online casino gambling is too vague for the financial institutions left to enforce it to determine what does and does not constitute “unlawful internet gambling.” The court records showing the recent blocks of online lottery tickets provides iMEGA with substantial evidence that these arguments are legitimate – which is why the pressure group believes that the DoJ has chosen to withhold the information.

                Lead attorney with the DoJ, Nicholas Bagley, wrote in a motion opposing the addition of the information, “This material was not before the district court…and is not germane to iMEGA’s facial constitutional challenge to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. Because this is not an ‘exceptional cas{e}’ that would warrant supplementing the district court record…the government opposes the motion to supplement.”

                “The regulations didn’t exist two years ago when this was brought to the district court,” added Joe Brennan Jr., chairman of iMEGA. “The regulations did not go into effect until Jan. 19, 2009, more than two years after they were due, and two years after we filed in district court. Should the government get credit for dragging its feet on this?

                “Now you see the negative effect this law was destined to have. It has led to over-blocking, even of transactions like state lotteries and horse racing, that have been given specific exemptions by this law. I know that the DoJ doesn’t like to lose, but to suggest that this is not ‘germane’ to the case – how the law actually works in the real world – is simply ridiculous.”

                The supplemental material, which includes four on-line articles, a record of a conference call between the Treasury Department and the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, a final rulemaking from the Treasury Department and internal operational guidelines from Visa International is relevant to iMEGA’s case that states that the vagueness of the ban on online casino gambling would lead to confusion from the banks and other financial institutions that have been forced to ensure the law’s enforcement.

                iMEGA is not the only organization that has had issue with the U.S. Department of Justice. Earlier this year, Party Gaming co-founder Anurag Dikshit, was forced into a settlement by the DoJ – which pursued legal action against the company despite its having pulled out of the U.S. market in 2006 when the UIGEA was put into motion. Meanwhile, online casinos and other internet gambling establishments have continued to operate unlawfully in the U.S. with no consequence.

                iMEGA was founded in 2007 as a professional association dedicated to the continued growth and innovation of the internet – including online casino gambling and other forms of virtual entertainment. The non-for-profit pressure group is headquartered in Washington DC and seeks the constructive engagement with government at federal and state levels to ensure the challenges of online medium are addressed with “full participation of the people and companies that have built the Internet into the powerful influence of society it has become.”