Federal Law and Online Gambling

Online Gambling

Whether you are a gambling enthusiast or not, online casinos have become increasingly popular. There are hundreds of sites on the internet that feature different forms of gambling, including poker, roulette, and sports betting. In order to participate, you only need a website and an internet connection.

In some states, online gambling is legal. However, in others, it is illegal. If you are planning on starting a business that involves gambling, it is important to explore the legality of your proposed business. This will help you decide on a location that is appropriate for your operation.

While online gambling is primarily a matter of state law, there are a few federal criminal statutes that are implicated by unlawful Internet gambling. These are the Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions. These laws prohibit activities associated with gambling that are deemed to violate the public interest, such as money laundering, evading taxes, and concealing the source of funds.

The United States has attempted to prosecute gambling operations that are deemed to violate the Wire Act and the Illegal Gambling Business Act. These efforts have been met with limited success. In 2002, the Government Accountability Office published Internet Gambling: An Overview of Issues. It included Congressional findings on how these acts affected interstate commerce. The Lopez Amendment is another law that affects the commercial activity of gambling. The law is meant to weed out low-level gambling cases.

Other federal criminal statutes are the Federal Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Enforcement Act, and the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provision. These laws also prohibit any financial transaction provider from facilitating illegal gambling businesses. In other cases, state officials have expressed concerns that the Internet could be used to transport illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. In these cases, the federal government has affirmed state law in cases.

The First Amendment has also been discussed, particularly in regard to the Commerce Clause. While it has been argued that the commercial nature of gambling does not pose the same constitutional magnitude as other criminal acts, questions have been raised regarding whether the Commerce Clause can be used to justify the criminalization of speech.

Ultimately, the law has a mixed record. The 10th Circuit, the 5th Circuit, and the 6th Circuit have all held that the Commerce Clause does not support the criminalization of gambling. These cases include bartenders and managers of establishments that had video poker machines.

While the law is not clear on how the First Amendment applies to the Commerce Clause, it seems to provide little protection for the free speech objections of players who use interstate facilities for unlawful activities. Other attacks have been based on the Due Process Clause, but they have had limited success.

Other statutes that have been used to prosecute Internet gambling operations are the Money Laundering Control Act, the Bank Secrecy Act, the Federal Wire Act, and the Federal Alcohol Administration Act. These statutes were the basis for the United States v. Nicolaou case.