Online gambling is the act of placing bets through the Internet. It includes casino gaming, sports betting, and virtual poker. The industry is one of the fastest growing in the world.
Some of the federal statutes involving online gambling include the Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, and the Gambling Act. All of these statutes make it illegal to place bets on the internet.
Other statutes governing gambling are the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provision, the Interstate Commerce Commission’s Travel Act, and the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) wire and cable television regulations. These laws are primarily enforced at the state level, though in some cases, the federal government also has jurisdiction.
There are a number of challenges to the enforcement of federal gambling laws on constitutional grounds. One of the most prominent issues is the balancing of the federal government’s power to regulate interstate commerce with the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech.
Another issue involves the due process rights of individual citizens. When financial transactions occur within the United States, arguments for due process are less compelling. However, this has not stopped federal prosecutors from filing charges against internet casinos.
In the most notable case, the federal government filed charges against two poker operators who were accused of running an illegal online poker business. These operators were charged with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and 18 U.S.C. 1955, which prohibits the use of money or property to unlawfully obtain or maintain a gambling facility.