The Legality of Online Gambling

online gambling

Online data sgp gambling is an e-business involving placing bets and receiving wagers over the Internet. It includes casino and sports betting as well as virtual poker, lottery, and pool-selling. The legality of these activities is a subject of debate, and has been challenged on constitutional grounds.

While some legal questions are open to debate, the fact remains that illegal internet gambling is unlawful. Illegality is defined in the law as “using a computer or electronic communications device to transmit or receive bets or other wagers.” Unlawful Internet gambling is a crime under the Wire Act, which prohibits the illegal gambling of sporting events. In addition, the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) makes it a criminal offense to conduct an online bet. Whether the activity is permitted or prohibited is also a matter of state law.

Currently, there are seven federal criminal statutes that are implicated by illegal Internet gambling. These include the Wire Act, the Money Laundering and Illicit Trafficking in Currency Act, the Gambling Fraud Act, the Interstate Commerce Act, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions.

As the law stands, the UIGEA does not address the most serious legal controversies regarding illegal Internet gambling, but it does make it unlawful for financial transaction providers to accept money from a player who has placed an illegal bet. The UIGEA requires online gambling operators to obtain licenses and monitor their customers. However, many online gambling sites are not licensed, and many do not pay taxes to their home countries.

There are other issues as well, such as the adequacy of federal oversight and regulation. One issue is whether the federal government can regulate activities that occur overseas, especially in light of the commercial nature of the business. Another is the extent of the First Amendment’s protections for crime facilitating speech. This is a particularly contentious question, as it encumbers free speech objections while regulating a commercial activity.

Several attacks have been made on the constitutionality of the Travel Act. Some have focused on the Commerce Clause, while others have focused on the Due Process Clause. Regardless, these attacks have yielded little success.

In a December 2002 study, the General Accounting Office (GAO), now the Government Accountability Office (GAO), published an overview of the Internet gambling industry. They noted that while a number of states have passed their own laws related to internet gambling, the legality of such activities is still not clear. Also, there are significant interstate and foreign elements that may hinder state enforcement policies.

While the aforementioned CRS Report RS21984 does not deal directly with gambling law, it does discuss the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and its associated citations to state gambling laws. For a broader picture, one could consult CRS Report RS22749.

Other relevant Congressional reports include CRS Report RS41614: Remote Gaming and CRS Report RS62632: Internet Gambling: Overview of Issues. Those documents, while not directly addressed by the GAO report, are useful in providing an overview of the law, its impact on American gamblers, and the various facets of the industry.