Internet gambling is playing games of chance or skill for money on the internet. It includes gambling on sports, lottery, casinos, and virtual poker. There are several laws and regulations that apply to Internet gambling, including the Illegal Gambling Business Act, the Wire Act, and the Travel Act. Some state officials have also expressed concerns that the internet might be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions.
Section 1956 of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) defines unlawful Internet gambling as a criminal activity that involves a variety of different crimes. The statute makes it unlawful to transmit or receive bets online, conduct or solicit a bet, place or receive bets, engage in a betting transaction, or use a financial transaction provider that accepts such wagers. Several other federal criminal statutes are implicated, including the Wire Act, the Money Laundering Control Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions.
Section 1956 also makes laundering a crime for law enforcement stings, concealing, and promoting illicit activity. The criminal penalties for laundering are relatively harsh. However, the Commerce Clause raises questions about the legislative power of the U.S. government to regulate gambling under the commerce clause.
The Wire Act also prohibits illegal gambling on sporting events. Sports betting has become much easier and faster with the advent of the internet. People can now wager on the total number of points scored, the match’s outcome, and the odds of a particular team winning.
Sports betting has long been a popular pastime for regular racegoers. Online betting has made it even easier to bet on your favorite teams, as well as other events. For example, there are apps that let you bet on a live UFC game. Many sites also offer live scores. In fact, online casinos often have a “Live Casino” section where you can play with a live dealer. Whether you are looking for traditional titles like video slots, or more recent additions, such as bingo, you will find them at an online casino.
While the commercial nature of the gambling business seems to satisfy the Commerce Clause’s doubts, the absence of sufficient protection for free speech objections to gambling has led to many challenges to federal laws regulating the industry. These attacks have mostly failed.
The First Amendment guarantees free speech, but due process arguments have remained limited. Because financial transactions are involved, these arguments have weakened.
Other constitutional concerns have arisen as state officials have expressed concern that the Internet could be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. This concern was recently addressed by the U.S. marshals who seized $3.2 million from a Discovery Communications account that was allegedly used to make illegal Internet bets.
A recent webinar was given by Myleene Klass, an online safety advocate and broadcaster. Klass has been working with a CE-OP trained expert to produce a series of webinars on issues relating to gambling and online safety.