Online gambling refers to the placing of bets on games through a computer. It involves a number of different activities such as sports betting, virtual poker, casinos, and more. Many countries do not allow online gambling. However, there are some nations in the Caribbean and Europe that do allow it.
The federal government has taken some steps to curb illegal Internet gambling, but the statutes have not been fully clarified. Some states have adopted their own gambling laws.
The federal Wire Act applies to wagering businesses, which may be fined and imprisoned if found in violation of the law. Another statute, the Travel Act, applies to Internet casinos.
The Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act would license and tax internet gambling businesses. This act would also regulate the businesses in a manner similar to other Internet businesses.
In a recent lawsuit, the United States accused Internet poker operators of violating the 18 U.S.C. 1955 money laundering and UIGEA laws. Aside from the fact that the case is a criminal case, it has raised questions about the constitutionality of federal laws regulating illegal Internet gambling.
Another question is whether the Commerce Clause gives the federal government the right to regulate state-run casinos on Indian reservations. Federal preemption has impeded state efforts to control gambling in the vicinity of Indian reservations.
On the other hand, some federal laws have been challenged on First Amendment grounds. Several attacks have failed. These arguments rely on the guarantee of free speech. But when financial transactions in the United States are involved, the arguments may be weakened.