The mysterious organisation that surfaced so dramatically this week by initiating legal action against the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association expanded on its aims and objectives at a Montreal online gambling conference. Addressing delegates at the Global Interactive Gaming Summit and Expo, spokesman Joe Brennan Jnr described iMEGA as a grass roots organisation that is seeking an injunction against the enforcement of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.
"We want a quick hearing," says spokesman on legal action against US Attorney General
iMEGA entered industry affairs with something of a bang, filing litigation in a New Jersey District Court against the US Attorney General, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Trade Commission earlier this week. The filings asked for an injunction to stop US banks from having to enforce whatever policies have or may be created until the courts can fully hear all the arguments against the UIGEA.
If the injunction is granted, it will derail the mid-July timing for the introduction of specific and as yet unrevealed UIGEA regulations formulated by the Treasury and the AG.
Brennan revealed that iMEGA has plans beyond the online gambling industry, and he stressed that his organisation was not a front for any gambling group or groups. The organisation is concerned at the erosion of constitutional liberties and fears that over-zealous government intervention could extend to other areas of American society. He pointed to other major Internet entities such as Google and YouTube as potential targets should the UIGEA concept, regulations and powers become more widely used by the authorities.
"This law will cause problems for the entire Internet," Brennan told delegates, explaining that his organisation was backed by a small group of wealthy individuals with strong moral convictions, who were concerned at the dangers that a ban on Internet financial flows such as that used in the UIGEA could imply.
iMEGA is concerned that if the UIGEA is allowed to continue, with its potential for absolute enforcement, the United States will fall far behind other major nations as far as online development is concerned, Brennan emphasised. "We understand there are problems that must be recognised such as underage and problem gambling, but there are ways to get rid of this instead of relying on draconian laws that will only exacerbate problems, especially when it comes to fraud and addiction," he claimed.
Brennan said he had gathered a number of like minded colleagues together after reading the text of the UIGEA and coming to the conclusion that the law was clearly unconstitutional.
"I immediately realised the slippery slope this represented and the larger issue this could present over the long haul," he said.
"iMEGA wants to focus broadly. We won't be a one issue association. It just happens that iGaming is the hot topic right now, and that iGaming has implications for Internet technologies going forward. If Jon Kyl [Senator and co-author of the UIGEA] is serious about protecting minors, he needs to rely on technology, not a blatant law that attacks the mechanisms behind problems they want to solve."
Brennan explained the hitherto low profile of iMEGA as part of its strategy to enter its action into the US legal system without prematurely warning other interested parties like the US Department of Justice. "We wanted to keep everything quiet. If the US Justice Department had found out about this, it may have begun targeting those involved. It was a strategy to get into court without tipping off the DOJ," he said.
"We are a 501 (c) 6 trade organization. This gives the association an opportunity to have standing to lobby on behalf of our members and to maintain their privacy."
The iMEGA initiative was apparently positively received by GIGSE delegates.
iMEGA's president, Edward Layden will be appearing at the House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington this week on Congressman Frank's proposal to regulate and license online gambling in the USA. Although he will not be personally testifying, he will be submitting expert written testimony within the next two weeks, which will be entered into the Congressional Register.
According to the PACER system, the case number for the iMEGA action is 3:2007cv02625 filed on June 5, 2007 in the Trenton office of the New Jersey District Court before Judge Mary J Cooper and referred by Magistrate Judge Tonianne J. Bongiovanni. The Nature of Suit is described as: Civil Rights – Other Civil Rights. Cause: 28:1331 Federal Question: Other Civil Rights.