Using the Internet to place a bet is not the same as gambling in a casino. Although it does not have the same constitutional significance as gambling, there are a number of statutes that prosecutors can use to arrest and prosecute an illegal Internet gambling operation. A few of these include the Illegal Gambling Business Act, the Wire Act, and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
While the law regulating illegal Internet gambling is largely a matter of state law, prosecutors can use federal law to enforce federal laws that prohibit certain activities. This is the case, for instance, with the Illegal Gambling Business Act, which requires that owners of illegal gambling operations are guilty of a crime if they run a business that has a gross revenue of more than $2,000 per day. In addition, federal law prohibits the acceptance of payments from illegal Internet bettors. These actions can also be a violation of the Wire Act, which prohibits the facilitation of illegal gambling on sporting events.
In addition to these federal statutes, there are several state laws that also prohibit illegal Internet gambling. While the laws vary from state to state, the best place to start is with the states that have jurisdiction over gambling. This includes the states of New York, New Jersey, and Nevada. In addition, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico have gambling laws of their own. In addition, state officials have expressed concerns that the Internet could be used to facilitate the migration of illegal gambling into their jurisdictions.
Although the most popular of these statutes may be the Illegal Gambling Business Act, there are also many other federal statutes that can be used to prosecute illegal Internet gambling operators. Some of these statutes are purely common law, while others are statutes passed by Congress. The most interesting of these laws is the Wire Act, which is a federal statute that is unique in the fact that it is the only federal statute whose main focus is to prohibit the facilitation of illegal gambling on sporting events. In addition, the Travel Act has jurisdiction over illegal gambling on interstate commerce, as well as money laundering and promoting illegal gambling. In addition, the Federal Communications Commission has jurisdiction over common carriers, telecommunications services, and facilities leasing.
Despite all the legal hoopla, it is likely that federal law will continue to reinforce state laws that prohibit illegal gambling. This is particularly true because of the nexus between the Internet and gambling. For instance, the Sporting News recently agreed to pay a $3 million public-service campaign to stop illegal gambling. Additionally, the federal government seized $3.2 million from Discovery Communications for accepting ads from a Costa Rican casino operation. Despite all of this, prosecutors have warned that PayPal, the world’s largest online financial service provider, may also be a target of prosecution.
In addition to these laws, there are also the aforementioned CRS reports. For instance, CRS Report RS21984 provides a citation to state gambling laws that are applicable to online gambling. The aforementioned CRS Report RS22749 is a tidbit about the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.