If you are a fan of gambling, then you are likely aware that a large portion of the global online gambling market consists of casinos, sports betting, virtual poker, and other similar forms of wagering. In fact, online gambling in the US generated revenues of $830 million in 1998 and reached $21 billion by 2008. Despite the proliferation of online casinos and other online gambling sites, the federal government hasn’t been too keen on the idea, as evidenced by recent enforcement efforts.
The Illegal Gambling Business Act, the Wire Act, and the Travel Act are the main federal laws implicated by illegal Internet gambling. Each of these laws provides specific definitions for illegal Internet gambling. Despite these laws, there is little certainty that a particular case will succeed. That is because state law in most jurisdictions is more lenient. However, the presence of an interstate component often frustrates state enforcement policies. This is because a state’s law may not apply to individuals engaging in Internet activities that take place in another state.
One of the simplest forms of gambling to engage in is sports betting. Sports betting websites have a listing of the various sports and their upcoming events. Players can click on a sport to see all of the betting options for that sport. Usually, the site will also feature an “instant” option, which means the game will begin immediately.
As for other forms of internet gambling, it’s more complicated than simply betting. Some of these types of games require players to download and install software onto their computers. Others are instantaneously played online. Still others, such as daily fantasy sports, involve software that enables players to draft teams and make wagers.
Although the UIGEA is the law of the land, some state officials have expressed concern about the potential impact of the internet on their jurisdictions. To counter this, the Federal Communications Commission has been tasked with determining what regulations should be applied to Internet gambling services. A federal marshal has even seized $3.2 million from the Discovery Communications, which accepted ads from a Costa Rican casino operation called Tropical Paradise.
While a number of legal challenges have been filed against the UIGEA and its predecessors, the statute itself hasn’t come down in a definitive way. There are some notable exceptions, though. For example, a federal prosecutors’ office has reportedly warned PayPal that it could face prosecution if it takes an unlicensed gambler’s deposit. Interestingly, there are a number of other laws that are also involved in this situation.
Besides the UIGEA, the Wire Act prohibits knowingly transmitting bets or wagers in violation of a state law. It’s also worth mentioning that the Travel Act applies to players who use facilities in another state for illegal activities.
In the end, the UIGEA is a good start. Unfortunately, it does not do enough to stem the tide of illegal Internet gambling. Additionally, it does not provide sufficient protections for small time gamblers.