Online gambling is an expanding business that is threatening to bring gambling into homes and businesses. In addition to casinos and poker rooms, online gambling now includes virtual poker and sports betting. The US Department of Justice has been looking at online gambling regulations for a number of years. However, this has not stopped state officials from raising concerns about the potential of illegal gambling on the Internet.
Federal law limits the types of gambling and the ways in which it is regulated. For example, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 essentially outlawed sports betting on the federal level. There are exceptions, though. A few states have legalized sports betting. Currently, only New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia allow residents to wager on sporting events from their homes. Several other states are considering introducing similar laws.
State officials have questioned the legitimacy of the federal government’s claim that all internet gambling is illegal. Some have raised questions about whether the Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to regulate gambling. Others have argued that it is up to individual states to regulate their own gambling. Although some state officials have been successful in enforcing their own laws, the question remains whether these laws will withstand legal challenges.
Nevertheless, Congress has largely used its powers under the Commerce Clause to limit and regulate the gambling industry. This legislation is often called the “Wire Act,” and it was drawn up before the Internet existed. While the Wire Act doesn’t apply to digital wagering, it does contain some key elements that should be accounted for.
According to the “Wire Act,” unlawful Internet gambling is the transmission or receipt of bets, or any activity that occurs at least partially on the Internet. The statute outlines several factors to be considered in order to weed out the low-level gambling cases. One of the key factors is if the act is legal both in the source and the destination.
Another law that is related to the Wire Act is the Travel Act. The Travel Act is designed to prevent people from using interstate facilities to engage in unlawful activities. That said, there are some exemptions, such as the “Skill Game Protection Act” which would clarify the definition of the Wire Act to exclude certain games.
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the most important legal aspect of Internet gambling is not the UIGEA, but rather the state-by-state regulation of gaming on the Web. However, the court has largely ruled against the federal government’s assertions that all online gambling is illegal. On the other hand, the department has permitted some states to pass their own legislation regulating online gambling.
The first legal online gambling venue was the Liechtenstein International Lottery. Other sites include the Caribbean’s Tropical Paradise. Several states have regulated Internet gambling, including Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. As of the writing of this article, twenty-two states have proposed or are in the process of allowing residents to wager on games of chance, such as poker and sports betting, through their desktop or mobile devices.