Several federal criminal statutes have been implicated by illegal Internet gambling. These statutes include the Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions. These laws can lead to fines and imprisonment of business owners. However, these laws also raise constitutional questions.
Under the Wire Act, it is unlawful to conduct online gambling on any sporting event, contest, or other activity. The statute also prohibits money laundering, which is the evasion of taxes and concealment of unlawful gambling activity. The Travel Act prohibits promotion of unlawful gambling, facilitating gambling, and money laundering. The statute also prohibits shipments of unlawful gambling products, services, or activities in interstate or foreign commerce.
Under the Illegal Gambling Business Act, it is unlawful for a person to engage in any unlawful gambling business, which includes owning, managing, or controlling a gambling business. A person can be in violation of this title if he or she engages in the business for more than thirty days. This business must also generate at least $2,000 in gross revenues in a single day. The business must be conducted by five or more individuals. The owner of an illegal gambling business can be fined under this title.
The Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organization (RICO) provisions also prohibit the operation of an illegal gambling business. Racketeer Influenced and Crooked Organizations (RIC) is defined as an organization, or group of individuals, that engages in the operation of a gambling business. An individual who participates in a RIC can be charged with a felony, which may result in imprisonment for up to five years.