Federal Law and Online Gambling

Online Gambling

Unlike in-person gambling, online gambling does not have the same protection from state law that it does from federal law. There are seven federal criminal statutes implicated by illegal Internet gambling. They are the Wire Act, the Travel Act, the Travel Management Act, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions.

The Wire Act is a federal statute prohibiting the illegal gambling of sporting events. It also bans the facilitating or promotion of such activities. It is enforced by the United States Marshalls. This statute has been challenged on constitutional grounds.

The Travel Act is also a federal statute that prohibits the facilitating or promoting of unlawful gambling. It can be established by reference to the nexus between the business of gambling and an interstate or foreign place of commerce. It can also be established by reference to shipments of goods or services within interstate commerce or to debts that are incurred as a result of gambling.

The Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations (RICO) provisions are a set of federal criminal statutes that prohibit the business of illegal Internet gambling. They can also be used to prosecute the owners of such businesses. They can be fined or imprisoned for up to five years.

The Illegal Internet Gambling Prohibition Act defines unlawful Internet gambling as the placing or receiving of bets or wagers over the Internet. It can be conducted by five or more people who may supervise, manage, finance, or direct the business.