Online gambling is any type of game of chance wherein participants use the internet to place or receive bets. This includes casinos, virtual poker, sports betting, and lotteries. It can take place on any device with an internet connection. However, the United States government has made some restrictions on online gambling. These restrictions were put into effect to prevent illegal gambling activities from taking place in states where it is prohibited.
A variety of federal criminal statutes are implicated by illegal Internet gambling. These laws include the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Tax Code, and the Travel Act. In addition, state officials have expressed concerns that the internet could be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions.
The Internet has changed the way we consume information. It has brought us closer to education and entertainment, and it has enriched our lives. However, the Internet has also exacerbated some trends. For example, gaming has become more creative. Using a combination of graphics and user navigation, games have developed a competitiveness that is determined by theme, mathematics, and the way users navigate through the site.
Several courts have ruled that the Commerce Clause entitles the government to regulate and monitor the Internet. However, these arguments have largely fallen on deaf ears. Since the Internet has a strong and uncontrollable pull on individuals, and since state and federal policies are often contradictory, it is not surprising that the government has not been able to fully enforce its laws against illegal Internet gambling.
While some of these challenges are based on the First Amendment guarantee of free speech, others are based on the Commerce Clause and due process. Whether an individual’s due process right to a fair trial is impaired when financial transactions in the United States are involved is a complicated question.
Another issue is whether the Commerce Clause entitles the federal government to prosecute individuals for gambling on the Internet. Section 1956 creates several distinct crimes, including laundering for concealing or evading taxes, laundering with the intent to promote an illicit activity, and laundering for international purposes. Some of these crimes have been found to be invalid by the 10th Circuit and the Fifth Circuit.
Another case involving the Travel Act is United States v. Heacock. According to this case, a player violated the Travel Act by using an interstate facility for unlawful purposes. One of these individuals was an employee of the Sporting News newspaper, who agreed to pay a fine of $4.2 million and launch a public service campaign promoting responsible gambling.
A third example of the Commerce Clause being challenged is the use of the word “interstate” to describe the law’s application to Internet casinos. When this case was tried in the Fifth Circuit, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the term was misleading because the Internet does not actually lie between two states.
Many other cases have been argued on the same basis. Those attacks rely on the Due Process Clause and the Commerce Clause, but both of these are unlikely to gain much traction.