Unlike live casinos, online gambling is usually played from the comfort of a person’s home. It offers convenience, flexibility, and the ability to gamble any time of the day or night. However, as in any other form of gambling, there are risks, including financial ruin. It is important to be careful and responsible when using online gambling services.
The federal government has taken several actions to regulate and prosecute illegal Internet gambling. The Illegal Gambling Business Act, the Wire Act, and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions all prohibit illegal gambling businesses. These laws do not preclude individual states from passing their own legislation.
A new bill introduced by New York Republican Congressman Peter King would create an office of “gambling oversight” within the Treasury Department. The new office would be charged with regulating and enforcing the federal gambling law, which would include a “national standard” on the Internet. This would ensure that casinos and other online businesses meet the same standards and would make it easier for federal and state governments to legalize online gambling.
The United States marshals also seized $3.2 million from Discovery Communications for accepting ads from Tropical Paradise, a Costa Rican casino operation. The company was also warned by federal prosecutors that it could face prosecution. The company agreed to pay a fine of $4.2 million and launch a $3 million public service campaign.
In addition to the federal laws, many state officials have expressed their concerns about the potential of the Internet to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. Some states have passed legislation allowing some forms of online gambling, such as horse racing and casinos, while others have banned all types of online gaming.
There have been attacks on the federal government’s power to enforce the federal laws, based on the Commerce Clause and First Amendment guarantees of free speech. Although the Commerce Clause provides the federal government with sweeping power over commerce, attacks based on this Clause have had little success. It is unclear how much power the federal government actually has under the Clause. The commercial nature of the gambling business does seem to satisfy some of the doubts about the Commerce Clause.
In addition to the federal criminal statutes, the Illegal Gambling Business Act and the Wire Act also implicate the state criminal laws of numerous states. These laws are intended to protect consumers from the dangers of illegal betting. In some cases, the federal laws will be reinforced by the state laws, in order to prevent the same types of crimes from occurring. The Wire Act, for example, prohibits the betting of money on sporting events.
There are a number of other federal criminal statutes that are relevant to the issue of illegal gambling on the Internet. These statutes include the Criminal Code, the Travel Act, the UIGEA, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Act (RICO).
The UIGEA was enacted in 2006 to prevent Americans from using the Internet to place bets on games of skill, such as poker. This carve-out of the 2006 UIGEA was challenged on constitutional grounds, but has been upheld.