Attorney Wayne Munroe said it is a policy decision of the Christie administration not to take action on web shops not covered under an injunction granted by the Supreme Court.
Munroe represents six of the seven web shops that secured an injunction preventing the government from shutting them down. They are Island Game, Island Luck, FML Group of Companies, Chances, Whatfall and Asue Draw.
Alfred Sears represents Paradise Games and also filed documents in a bid to stop the government from shutting the gaming operations down.
The injunction was secured on January 30, two days after a majority of voters who voted in a referendum said no to the taxation and regulation of web shops and the establishment of a national lottery.
“(The injunction) only can apply to the people who have it because what we say in our affidavit and in our action is our clients are not covered by the Lotteries and Gaming Act,” Munroe said.
“We don’t know what other people do, so we can’t say that they are not doing something different than our clients.
“But it’s a matter for the government, the commissioner of police, the minister of national security and the attorney general whether or not they take any action not covered by the action and the order. That’s a policy decision for them.”
Munroe has argued that his clients provide Internet gaming services, which he said do not break any laws in the country.
He has also contended that Parliament does not have the ability to make laws that curtail people’s freedom to spend their money for entertainment purposes.
He said some would argue that the government should inspect web shops that have not initiated legal action to see if their operations are similar to his clients.
“Some may say that at the very least you can approach them and have them confirm by some document, what they are doing, because in effect the litigation is about what my clients are doing.
“These other folks, some may say you should make sure they declare what they are doing, so you satisfy yourself that is a matter that’s under (the legal action).”
Both Sears and Munroe said that as far as they were aware the government had yet to enter an appearance or file a statement of claim in the case.
When asked about the issue last week, Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage said the government has made its position on web shops clear.
“The prime minister on the (day) after the referendum did what he said he would do; he advised all web shops to close. That’s the government’s policy,” Nottage said.
“As you know, there are certain matters that are before the courts. I’m not able to say which web shops fall under the provisions that you are suggesting or not. The government’s position is the web shops should close.”
When asked if police were planning to crack down on web shops not covered by the injunction, he said, “It is not my role to order the police to do one thing or another. The police know what the law is as do we, and I presume that the police are acting in accordance with the law.”
By Taneka Thompson
Guardian Senior Reporter