Online gambling is an activity that involves placing bets on sporting events, virtual poker, and other games that are played over the internet. The law prohibits illegal gambling in both state and federal jurisdictions. It is also illegal to transmit bets on the internet, and to accept financial instruments for the purposes of unlawful Internet gambling.
Illegal Internet gambling is a federal crime under the Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, and seven other federal statutes. Aside from the criminal nature of these crimes, they also raise issues regarding constitutionality. Among the underlying legal issues are the federal government’s ability to prosecute such activity, the Constitution’s right to privacy, and the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech.
One of the most prominent issues concerning Internet gambling is its potential impact on the nation’s commerce. While Congressional findings suggest that the law does not significantly affect interstate commerce, some concerns have been raised about whether the Commerce Clause gives the government the power to regulate such activities. Another issue is the fact that such gambling is a commercial activity, and thus seems to satisfy the Commerce Clause. Several attacks have been made based on the Commerce Clause, but they have not had much success.
Some state officials have expressed concern that the Internet could be used to transport illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. These concerns were addressed in a December 2002 report, Internet Gambling: An Overview of Issues. In this report, several cases of Internet gambling are discussed. Although these cases do not address the question of Rewis, they discuss the Travel Act, which makes it illegal to use interstate facilities to engage in unlawful activity.
Internet gambling also implicates the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions of the Federal criminal code. These provisions are designed to prevent illegal gambling business activities, and were originally adopted in 1992. As of 2007, however, the federal government had not formally prosecuted any companies that operate Internet gambling sites.
The Internet gambling industry is a complex field, with several different types of sites and methods of operation. Some sites offer sports betting, while others focus on casino games. Most of these sites work on a web browser, with a few offering software that allows players to download a client.
When it comes to depositing money, credit cards and debit cards are the most common methods. Online gambling sites are generally compatible with laptops and computers that run Windows. However, a number of sites now support mobile devices, as well. After registering, a player can access his or her account through the casino’s website. Players can then select from various games, including roulette, blackjack, and poker. There are also daily fantasy sports sites, which feature software for drafting teams and drafts.
Other gambling-related issues are the legality of remote gaming, or the ability to play in another country. CRS Report RS21984 provides information on these topics. Similarly, CRS Report RS22749 discusses the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.