Using the internet to conduct illegal gambling is a big no-no, and seven federal criminal statutes are implicated. These include the Wire Act, the Interstate Gambling Control Act, the Gambling Devices Transportation Act, and the Illegal Gambling Business Act. Each of these statutes is designed to address different aspects of online gambling. The Wire Act, for example, prohibits the use of the Internet to bet on sports or contests. The Illegal Gambling Business Act, on the other hand, targets the conduct of gambling businesses.
The simplest form of online gambling is sports betting. A sports betting site will usually list all of the sports that are being played, and will allow users to place bets on them. Some sites even offer “instant” games, in which users can place bets on a virtual game. When the game is finished, the site will deduct a buy-in amount from the user’s account.
Another example is online poker. Poker sites use random number generators to determine the winner of each hand. Online poker sites also process all of the game data, thereby eliminating the need for a human dealer. Most sites also have software to draft teams for daily fantasy sports.
Another example is the Travel Act, which aims to stop the transportation of illegal gambling. Its restrictions are mainly directed at the interstate commerce. The statute essentially states that it is unlawful to conduct gambling in any state or territory of the United States, and prohibits the transportation of illegal gambling in interstate commerce.
The aforementioned CRS Report RS21984 cites a few of these statutes in its abridged form. In addition, the aforementioned United States v. K23 Group Financial Services is a criminal case involving illegal Internet poker operations. The CRS Report also includes citations to state gambling laws. It is also interesting to note that the aforementioned CRS Report RS21984 is not a complete list of all of the statutes cited.
The aforementioned UIGC Act also contains a few notable laws. It is not clear whether or not the aforementioned CRS Report RS21984 was actually used to inform a prosecutor. However, it does seem to be a good start. It lays out several elements for weeding out low-level gambling cases.
The aforementioned CRS Report also mentions the most expensive legal action the federal government can take against an illegal Internet gambling operation. This action would include a fine, and possibly a public service campaign. It would also likely involve the Federal Communications Commission, since it has jurisdiction over common carriers. In addition, the FCC could also discontinue the maintenance or lease of facilities used by such operations.
Despite its obvious shortcomings, the aforementioned CRS Report RS21984 does show that the law is on the Internet. The law is complicated, and it may be too difficult for the federal government to successfully prosecute all of the online gambling cases it has filed. In addition, there may be interstate and foreign elements that make enforcement policies difficult to enforce.