Case against UIGEA shot down by appeals court

2 September 2009
A U.S. appeals court upheld the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in a unanimous 3-0 ruling Tuesday.

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals rejected both iMEGA's argument that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was too vague and that it violated privacy rights.

The ruling didn't come as a surprise to legal experts following the case.

"Anytime you challenge an act of Congress that doesn't involve pure political speech, you've got an awfully large hill to climb," explained Buffalo State business law professor Joe Kelly. "They (iMEGA) constructed the best argument they could have, but it was an extreme long shot."

One of the arguments that iMEGA focused on was that the UIGEA violated privacy rights. The online gaming trade associate cited two cases -- Lawrence v. Texas and Reliable Consultants Inc. v. Earle -- as examples of how the UIGEA infringed on privacy.

But Judge Dolores Sloviter, who authored the opinion for the Philadelphia-based court, didn't mince words in dismissing iMEGA's claims.

"Interactive's (iMEGA) reliance on those cases is misplaced," Sloviter wrote.

"Both Lawrence and Earle involved state laws that barred certain forms of sexual conduct between consenting adults in the privacy of the home," Sloviter said. "As the Supreme Court explained in Lawrence, such laws 'touch upon the most private human conduct, sexual behavior, and in the most private of places, the home.'

"Gambling, even in the home, simply does not involve any individual interests of the same constitutional magnitude. Accordingly, such conduct is not protected by any right to privacy under the constitution."

The chairman of the iMEGA, Joe Brennan Jr., said in a statement after the ruling was announced that Sloviter's ruling contained a silver lining.

"The court made it clear - gambling on the Internet is unlawful where state law says so. But there are only a half-dozen states which have laws against Internet gambling, leaving 44 states where it is potentially lawful. It's not perfect, but it's a good start."

Brennan also said that iMEGA has not decided yet whether it would appeal the ruling.

Vin Narayanan

Articles by Vin Narayanan is the former managing editor at Casino City and has been involved in the gaming industry for over a decade Vin is currently based in Hong Kong, where he runs his own consultant group and works as head of gaming and public relations for Mega Digital Entertainment Group.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for, USA WEEKEND and CNN.