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Judge Nixes Challenge To Internet Gambling Law

TRENTON, N.J. (CN) - A federal judge refused to block a law aimed at ending online gambling, but allowed the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association to challenge the law in an appellate court.

U.S. District Judge Mary Cooper ruled that the gaming association failed to make a case to stop enforcement of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which makes it a criminal offense for anyone in the gambling business to knowingly accept money "in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful Internet gambling."

The association claims its members are "branded as criminals ... for engaging in (an) association espousing safe, legal and responsible wagering," and says the law impermissibly chills their constitutional rights to free speech and free association.

The court concluded that this claim fails because the law does not prohibit the association or its members from promoting Internet gambling, either explicitly or implicitly.

The judge also rejected the plaintiff's argument that the law criminalizes the "content-neutral transmittal of funds." Cooper said there is nothing "content-neutral" about accepting illegal gambling money.

Similarly, Cooper dismissed the gaming association's claim that the law is overbroad or vague, and said the group lacks standing to assert any right-to-privacy claims. It also rejected the notion that the law steps on any international trade agreements or states' rights.

Cooper wrapped up her ruling with the conclusion that the challenged statute was "lawfully enacted and does not impermissibly intrude on the Constitution's guarantees."

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