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Poker’s UIGEA Upheld by U.S. 3rd Circuit Court

IMEGA Chairman Says This Ruling May Open the Door to Intrastate Poker


The UIGEA has been upheld.The UIGEA is here to stay, at least for now.

The U.S. third circuit court of appeals upheld the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act this week, rejecting the argument that the law should be repealed because it was unconstitutional. The Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association, the organization that brought the case to the court, says that it is considering an appeal, but it has not immediately filed one.

While the decision is seen as a blow to poker advocates who hoped this case could initiate the immediate removal of a law that severely hampers the online gaming industry, IMEGA chairman Joe Brennan, Jr. believes that this ruling does open the door for the potential regulation of legalized poker in the U.S.

“The court made it clear — gambling on the Internet is unlawful where state law says so,” said Brennan. “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.”

While the court’s decision does not effectively change anything, Brennan believes the language of the judges’ opinion will relieve states’ concerns that legalizing and regulating online poker in their own states is somehow illegal under the Wire Act. While Brennan and other gambling and legal experts have argued that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting, the Department of Justice has maintained that online poker is illegal.

Judge Dolores Sloviter, the judge who wrote the opinion in the third circuit court, made it clear that the UIGEA could not be used to support the Department of Justice’s position.

“It bears repeating that the Act itself does not make any gambling activity illegal,” wrote Sloviter. “Whether the transaction…constitutes unlawful Internet gambling turns on how the law of the state from which the bettor initiates the bet would treat that bet, i.e. if it is illegal under that state’s law, it constitutes ‘unlawful Internet gambling’ under the Act.”

While Brennan expressed disappointment that the court didn’t agree with the arguments that his organization presented — that the UIGEA was unconstitutional due to vagueness, privacy concerns, first amendment issues, and because it was counter to U.S. treaty obligations — he said that, in a way, “this levels the playing field.”

With the focus now on the individual states, IMEGA hopes to spend its time and resources on local issues to try to regulate the industry.

“States have always held the power to regulate gambling in this country, not the Federal government” said Brennan. “The court’s ruling seems to say ‘back to the future’ when it comes to regulating Internet gambling, so we will turn our attention to the states to make the case that this industry can be properly regulated and produce badly needed tax revenue.”



12 years ago

Am i missing something here??? You don't see ppl fighting to get DRUNK DRIVING laws over-turned, why???? cuz they are great laws designed to protect our citizens. With SOOOOOOO many ppl fighting to get this horrific Act overturned, somebody should wake up and say, "Hey, maybe this UIGEA wasn't such a good idea afterall." Nuff Said.