In the wake of the order by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety calling for the blockage of 200 internet gambling websites, the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) has filed a lawsuit.
The legal action was filed in the United States District Court in Minneapolis and lists John Willems, the Director of the Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division, as its defendant. Letters were sent by the Department of Public Safety to 11 of the country’s largest internet service providers (ISPs), including Charter, Comcast, and Qwest. Several of the ISPs in question offer multiple products, such as residential home telephone service, cell service, high-speed internet, and cable television; notably absent from those served was Time Warner. iMEGA’s lawsuit was officially entered on Wednesday and weighs in at 20 pages.
iMEGA Chairman Joe Brennan told Poker News Daily what the organization’s reasoning was for seeking legal action in the wake of the notices sent out by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety: “We’ve told the ISPs that the Department of Public Safety doesn’t have the authority to do this. The choke point is the Department of Public Safety. They have, in our opinion, exceeded their authority and jurisdiction. It makes sense to go to the source rather than betting on the goodwill of the ISPs.” In an interview with PocketFives.com, Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas noted that if an ISP complied with Minnesota’s censorship, they would be promptly sued by his organization. Brennan explained, “At this point, we’re not inclined to take any legal action against ISPs because they have not yet responded.”
The lawsuit filed on Wednesday notes that the internet permeates more than 150 countries worldwide. It also reminds readers that the Department of Public Safety generated the list of 200 sites randomly. Along with the domain name, the Department of Public Safety included each site’s IP address and telephone number in its letter to ISPs. Bodog, Full Tilt Poker, and Players Only headlined the list, which also included a bevy of rooms that do not accept U.S. players, including Titan Poker, Everest Poker, and Action Poker. Meanwhile, PokerStars, the largest online poker site in the world, was noticeably absent from prosecution.
iMEGA’s lawsuit notes that the State of Minnesota did not have jurisdiction to act because “none of the sites identified in the Defendant’s list are owned by entities within the jurisdiction of, or subject to prosecution by, the State of Minnesota.” The organization also claims that the Department of Public Safety’s actions constitute a breach of First Amendment rights under the United States Constitution. In the same count, iMEGA charges that the list of 200 sites “is under-inclusive because the Defendant has attempted to block access to only an ‘initial sample’ of about 200 sites even though, by his own admission… ‘thousands’ of such sites exist.”
The lawsuit adds that the State of Minnesota is in violation of the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. This portion of the legal action notes that areas outside of Minnesota will likely be affected. It asserts that censorship will “have a significant and irreparable harmful effect on interstate commerce by interfering with commercial and other speech of both Internet speakers and listeners, including Plaintiff and its members and their customers, beyond the borders of Minnesota.” iMEGA has used similar arguments in Kentucky, where the organization is seeking to overturn the actions of Governor Steve Beshear, who ordered the seizure of 141 internet gambling domain names, including those belonging to PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Ultimate Bet, and Doyle’s Room. iMEGA has until June 1st to file its brief with the Kentucky Supreme Court.
Brennan noted that significant monetary costs might deter the Department of Public Safety from pushing forward with its actions. He explained, “When we start including things like recouping legal fees into our lawsuit, it puts a dollar figure on it not only in repaying us, but also in defending the suit. It’s going to force them to make a decision on whether to commit resources to this effort. If they decide it’s not worth it, they might cut their order.”
We’ll have more for you on the Minnesota internet gambling battle right here on Poker News Daily.