WASHINGTON: The Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA), a nonprofit that lobbies for online gambling interests, has hired Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide to help with public outreach.
IMEGA president Edward Leyden declined to discuss deal terms, but said the firm would assist with "brand awareness" for iMEGA specifically and online gambling - or "gaming" - in general.
He added that the industry is widely misunderstood as unregulated and irresponsible - allegedly encouraging gambling by children and addicts, for example, when in fact the industry does not.
"They'll help us [craft] our public message," Leyden said. "We think there is a brand to be built for our association. We're new and trying to build our name."
One prime goal of the organization is to stop the enforcement of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The group feels the law is unconstitutional and is seeking to block it in federal court.
IMEGA is also backing various pro-online-gambling legislation under consideration in Congress, including a bill introduced by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, that would reverse the UIGEA's ban on US banks processing credit-card payments for overseas gaming enterprises.
"We see this is a battle that will be fought in a court of law, but also in the court of public opinion and, ultimately, in the legislature and by people who are elected by their constituents," Leyden said. "So we're trying to get this message out that this is an opportunity to provide a new source of funding for projects" of various types.
Leyden said iMEGA also aims to collaborate outreach with other groups, such as the Poker Players Alliance. More broadly than promoting the notion of a person's rights to gamble online, and the benefits in tax revenues that it provides, iMEGA describes itself as "dedicated to the growth and innovation of the Internet." It is also seeking to position itself as part of a broad group of advocates working for Internet privacy rights.
Ogilvy confirmed it is working with iMEGA, but deferred comment to the group.