Is Online Gambling Legal?
Online gambling has exploded in popularity, with more Americans playing their favorite casino games online. However, many questions remain about legality. For starters, there are federal laws that govern internet gambling. These include the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and the Wire Act. These statutes, together with the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act, prohibit illegal gambling business activities. In addition, state officials have expressed concern that internet gambling could become an avenue for illegal gambling in their jurisdictions.
Although the Wire Act is designed to prevent unlawful gambling on contests, it also applies to online gambling. For instance, in Illinois, a bet placed via the internet constitutes gambling activity. This is particularly true if the bet is placed through an online sportsbook. The Wire Act prohibits any form of betting that takes place on an athletic contest without proper authorization. This includes the illegal use of lottery tickets, pools, lotteries, bingo, and the sale of chances.
In addition to the Wire Act, several other federal criminal statutes are implicated by illegal online gambling. These include the Gambling Business Act, the National Lottery Integrity Act, and the Wire Act. In addition, the Federal Communications Commission, which is responsible for furnishing and maintaining facilities, may decide to discontinue their provision of such services. It is unclear whether the Commerce Clause gives Congress the authority to regulate gambling through this federal agency.
In addition to the various federal criminal statutes, several states have their own laws on the books. The Nevada law requires that players register with a Nevada-based casino to make wagers. The state also requires that the first bet be made at a Nevada-based casino. Other jurisdictions have limited their laws to specific types of gambling. In Iowa, most sporting events are open to wagering, but live wagering on collegiate games is not permitted. The state also does not permit eSports betting. In New Hampshire, wagering on in-state collegiate games is prohibited.
There are a few other jurisdictions that have started to legalize online gambling. In Iowa, there are dozens of sportsbook apps available, including FanDuel, DraftKings, and Caesars. In Michigan, three major poker sites have started operations. In Connecticut, there are only tribal casinos. The lottery will soon offer a small selection of sports betting options. In Massachusetts, the state will begin to offer sports betting in early 2023. In Indiana, the state will likely follow suit in the future.
In a report published in 2002, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed the issue of legalized online gambling in the United States. It found that the commercial nature of the gambling business appeared to satisfy some constitutional concerns. In addition, the commercial nature of the industry seemed to satisfy some questions of legislative power under the Commerce Clause. In other words, there was little reason to believe that the federal government could lawfully prosecute illegal Internet gambling.
In another case, an offshore Internet-based sports bookmaking operation, Tedder, was indicted for violating the Wire Act. The indictment was filed in the E.D. Mo., but was later rescinded. In addition, the court ordered that the company pay a fine of $4.2 million.