The Internet is home to many forms of gambling, including casinos, sports betting, virtual poker, and lottery games. These activities are legally regulated in several states, but not all. Online casinos have become increasingly popular as technological advances have allowed them to become more convenient and user-friendly.
Gambling is defined in the United States as “any game, race, or sports contest, in which the outcome is dependent upon chance.” This includes casino games, lotteries, bookmaking, pool-selling, and betting. Games like bingo, scratch card, and video poker also fall into the category of gambling.
Illegal gambling on the Internet is a violation of seven federal criminal statutes. These statutes include the Wire Act, the Federal Communications Commission’s Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions.
As the popularity of online gambling has continued to grow, the number of states that have passed laws allowing it has steadily increased. However, these laws have also been challenged on constitutional grounds.
One of the primary concerns in attempting to regulate illegal gambling has been the issue of due process. When the activity occurs in part abroad, a challenge to the regulation of it on constitutional grounds can prove difficult.
Additionally, state officials have expressed concerns that the Internet could be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. In this regard, the federal government is reinforcing state law in certain cases.
In addition to the criminal statutes, the federal Travel Act is another law that applies to illegal gambling on the Internet. If a player uses an interstate facility to engage in illegal activities, then the owner of the illegal gambling business is subject to a fine under this title.