Those interested in gambling may find that the internet offers a variety of ways to place bets and play games of chance. These games can range from casinos to virtual poker to sports betting. However, illegal gambling is prohibited under federal law. There are seven federal criminal statutes that can be used to prosecute an illegal gambling business. There are also provisions in the federal government’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act that prohibit illegal gambling business activities.
In addition to federal law, there are several state laws that prohibit gambling. Some state officials have expressed concerns about the use of the internet to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. Other states have passed legislation to prevent illegal online gambling. Those who violate the law can be fined and imprisoned.
As a result of the heightened interest in the issue of Internet gambling, the Commerce Clause has been debated in the courts. The Commerce Clause does not give Congress the power to regulate gambling on a state-by-state basis. However, the commercial nature of the gambling industry appears to satisfy Commerce Clause doubts. The question is whether such a power can be limited under the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech.
The First Amendment enumerates several forms of speech that are protected from censorship. For example, the Lawrence and Earle decisions involved state laws that prohibited certain forms of sexual conduct in the home. This limited protection encumbers objections to gambling activities on the basis of free speech.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is a federal statute that has been used to prosecute the illegal Internet gambling business. Its definition of unlawful Internet gambling is: receiving or making bets in a manner that violates the laws of a state, or of a federally recognized Indian tribe. The statute also includes age verification, location verification, and appropriate data security standards.
In addition to these criminal statutes, the federal government has also imposed fines on gambling business owners. Under the UIGEA, an illegal gambling business can be prosecuted and fined for gross revenues in excess of $2,000 per day. In addition, a gambling business owner can be imprisoned for up to five years. The federal law has also been used to reinforce state law in cases.
The Lopez Amendment is another statute that is used to prosecute illegal gambling activities. The Lopez Amendment is a Congressional finding of how the commercial nature of the gambling industry affects interstate commerce. The Lopez Amendment also includes elements to weed out low level gambling cases.
Another case involving illegal gambling is United States v. K23 Group Financial Services. The case involves Internet poker operators who are charged with 18 U.S.C. 1955 violations and UIGEA violations. The prosecution claims that these gambling businesses engage in money laundering and violate the UIGEA.
There have been attempts to attack the constitutionality of the federal gambling laws on the basis of the Commerce Clause. However, these efforts have had little success. The due process argument is also limited when a gambling transaction occurs within the United States.