Online gambling is the process of conducting gambling activities through the internet. These types of activities include casinos, sports betting, and virtual poker. Some online gambling sites also allow players to enter contests. Typically, the software used in these games is available to download and can be played using a web browser.
The United States Congress has passed several federal laws to regulate and enforce Internet gambling. These laws include the Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions. Each of these statutes is relevant to the operation of illegal Internet gambling. In addition, state officials have expressed concerns that the Internet can be used to facilitate the transport of illegal gambling into their jurisdictions.
Under the Illegal Gambling Business Act, Internet gambling is defined as receiving, placing, or adjusting bets, or a combination of those activities, through the Internet. The statute is applicable to a person who places a bet or bets through the Internet on an unlawful sporting event. It does not, however, include gambling devices, such as slot machines, roulette wheels, or dice. Similarly, the Wire Act is applicable to an individual who places a bet or bets on an unlawful sporting event.
In addition to these statutes, the Federal Communications Commission has a regulatory role in Internet gambling. This commission may prevent the operation of facilities that accommodate Internet gambling and may also discontinue the leasing and furnishing of such facilities. However, the commission’s regulation of such facilities is subject to court approval.
Another federal law relating to Internet gambling is the Travel Act. The Act prohibits the conduct of illegal gambling through the Internet on interstate commerce. The statute is applicable to players who use facilities that are located in more than one state for the purpose of engaging in unlawful activity.
Other federal criminal statutes implicated by illegal Internet gambling are the Criminal Code of the United States, the Wire Act, the National Crime Against Children Act, the Controlled Substances Act, and the Clean Air Act. However, in the context of Internet gambling, these statutes may be more limited than other forms of unlawful gambling.
A number of other state statutes also provide for the prohibition of certain forms of illegal gambling. For example, the Illinois Criminal Code defines betting on an unlawful sports event as a crime. Further, the State of New York considers it a crime to transmit information from New York via the Internet, which constitutes gambling activity.
In 2002, the General Accounting Office published an overview of issues associated with Internet gambling. This overview does not discuss the Commerce Clause and the First Amendment, but it does include Congressional findings about the impact of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act on interstate commerce.
There have been a number of legal cases involving the United States government’s enforcement of federal gambling laws. The cases arose on constitutional grounds and raised questions about the scope of the Government’s power under the Commerce Clause. However, attacks based on the Due Process Clause have enjoyed limited success.