Federal Law and Online Gambling

Online Gambling

Online gambling is playing games of chance for money over the Internet. This can include sports betting, virtual poker, and casinos. It can also involve lottery, pool-selling, and bookmaking.

There are a number of federal criminal statutes that can be implicated by illegal Internet gambling. These include the Wire Act, the Travel Act, and the Illegal Gambling Business Act. In addition, there is a federal law that imposes fines for those who operate an illegal gambling business.

Under the Wire Act, it is unlawful to transmit information about an event or game over the Internet. The Travel Act prohibits the use of interstate facilities for unlawful activities. Additionally, the Illegal Gambling Business Act makes it a crime to receive, possess, or place bets or wagers over the Internet.

These federal laws have been challenged on constitutional grounds. However, the attacks have been largely ineffective.

The First Amendment protects free speech in general. In some cases, the commercial nature of the gambling business may satisfy the Commerce Clause.

Those seeking to challenge the legality of Internet gambling have argued that federal law violates the First Amendment. One example is the United States v. Nicolaou case, which involved five people at all times during a thirty day period.

Another example is the 10th Circuit case of United States v. O’Brien. Essentially, the court found that the Commerce Clause is not enough to justify a prohibition on online gambling.

Another area of debate involves the extent of the government’s power under the Commerce Clause. Section 1956 of the Federal Criminal Code creates a number of distinct crimes, including laundering to disguise, laundering to evade tax, and laundering to promote illicit activity.