Online gambling is a form of gambling that is conducted through the internet. It includes casinos, sports betting and virtual poker. Casinos can be played through a web browser or by downloading software. These sites provide a graphical representation of a real casino. Some sites specialize in just one type of gambling.
Gambling is primarily governed by state law, but federal laws are also cited in cases. Several federal criminal statutes are implicated by illegal Internet gambling. The Federal Wire Act, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and the Illegal Gambling Business Act are all involved. In addition to these federal crimes, state officials have expressed concern that the internet could be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions.
Many states have attempted to regulate online gambling by passing their own statutes. For example, New York State has passed a law that makes the act of entering a bet on a gaming site a form of gambling activity in that state. The statute defines gambling as “a contest or a game of chance in which the participant may win money.” Since a computer is needed to use a gambling site, the game must be played on a PC running Windows.
Another state law that is relevant to the case is the Travel Act, which prohibits unlawful gambling on interstate commerce. Moreover, the Wire Act is applicable to Internet casinos and sports betting. Nonetheless, the presence of an interstate element in the case frustrates enforcement policies of state law.
The first online gambling venue for the general public was the Liechtenstein International Lottery. This venue offered games like blackjack and roulette. Today, most casinos offer two ways for users to play, either by clicking a link or by downloading a software client. After the user logs in to the casino website, he or she is presented with a graphical representation of the game and the option to start a new round. Players can adjust their stakes or choose different types of wagers.
Currently, the federal government is prosecuting illegal Internet gambling on seven separate grounds. However, it has failed to gain much success on any of these grounds. A few of these have been based on attacks based on the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. Others have focused on the Commerce Clause. Although the commercial nature of the Internet gambling business appears to satisfy many objections to the Commerce Clause, other issues such as the freedom of speech are still in dispute.
Whether the state or the federal government has the authority to enforce the law is still a matter of contention. As the federal government has reinforced the state law in cases, questions about the constitutionality of the law have been raised. Additionally, the state government has questioned whether the law’s enforceability violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment.
Various courts have been divided in determining whether the state or the federal government has the authority over Internet gambling. However, the Tenth Circuit and the Sixth Circuit have held that the states have the legal authority to impose the penalties for illegal gambling.