Online gambling is a type of betting on games of chance for money. It includes casino games, sports betting, virtual poker, and more. However, online gambling has been primarily a matter of state law. Federal law, however, reinforces state laws in many cases.
The law regulating gambling in the United States is the Wire Act. This law prohibits illegal gambling on sporting events, contests, and other activities.
There are several other federal criminal statutes that also apply to illegal internet gambling. These include the Illegal Gambling Business Act, the Travel Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions.
The Travel Act has a broader scope than the Illegal Gambling Business Act. The Act prohibits illegal gambling on interstate commerce.
Generally speaking, the Travel Act applies to Internet casinos and players who engage in unlawful activities while using an interstate facility. The CRS Report RS22749, on the other hand, is related to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
Although it is true that there are various federal criminal statutes implicated by illegal internet gambling, there is also a large number of state and local legal authorities to consider. For example, in the state of New York, the act of entering a bet is considered gambling activity.
Several state officials have expressed concerns that the internet could be used to bring illegal gambling into their states. Consequently, the federal government has taken a more aggressive approach to combating this crime. In December 2002, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published Internet Gambling: An Overview of Issues.