The Federal Government’s Role in Online Gambling Enforcement

online gambling

Online gambling is a very popular activity in the United States. It includes all forms of casinos, online sportsbooks, and virtual poker. Although most Americans are able to access gambling sites at a local level, state laws have been slow to regulate the practice. The UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) has raised questions about the government’s authority to enforce the law. However, the Commercial and Interstate Commerce Clauses are unlikely to prevent states from regulating gambling on the Internet.

While most of the action in this area has been with the Department of Justice, it is also possible for state legislatures to take action. For example, in Arizona, the state has passed a law that limits online casino and sports betting to people 21 and over. Individual proposition wagers on collegiate games are not permitted. In other cases, state legislatures have enacted laws that restrict online casinos or sportsbooks, such as Illinois’ ban on betting on non-sports events.

During the 1990s, the federal government was concerned about online gambling. In response, the United States Department of Justice conducted an extensive investigation into the Internet’s potential for illegal activities. These actions raised questions about whether federal laws could preempt state law. As a result, several bills were introduced in the House of Representatives to soften the Internet gambling laws.

One of the most controversial provisions of UIGEA is Section 1956. This statute creates several different crimes. Some of these crimes include laundering, disguise, and evading taxes. Essentially, it allows the government to prosecute people who are engaged in any unlawful activity for a reason that is deemed to have an indirect impact on international commerce. Moreover, Section 1956 has been used to argue that the statute is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment.

A further objection to Section 1956 is the possibility that it may preempt states from enforcing their own state gambling laws. This is based on the dormant Commerce Clause doctrine. When a state law conflicts with the Commerce Clause, it is generally considered unconstitutional.

Nonetheless, this does not mean that states have the right to refuse to enforce federal laws. Under this theory, the federal government’s powers are presumed to extend to all states. However, the commercial nature of a gambling business can help to squelch any arguments of free speech concerns.

Similarly, the Wire Act applies to Internet wagering businesses, which means that operators are subject to fines and imprisonment for violating this law. However, a Wire Act exception can apply if the act is legal in both source and destination locations.

Finally, the Travel Act governs the use of interstate facilities for unlawful activities. In this regard, the Federal Communications Commission has the power to prohibit the leasing of facilities or the furnishing of facilities. But the Commission is not empowered to stop internet gambling, if it is legal in the destination state.

If a state chooses to enforce its own laws, the state has the right to set the age at which children may gamble. Some states have a different age limit for each type of gambling activity. Others have a unified minimum age for all types of gambling.