Online gambling is an expanding industry in the United States. While some states already offer legal online casinos and poker, others are just beginning to look into this growing industry. The question is whether state and federal law are adequately regulating this industry. There are also constitutional issues that need to be considered. In addition, some state officials have expressed concern that the internet could be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions.
There are many different types of gambling, including casinos, sportsbooks, and lotteries. Each of these activities is defined under state and federal laws. Sports betting is the most well-known form of online gambling in the United States. Currently, the state of Ohio does not offer online casinos or poker. However, the legislature recently approved a bill that will allow the state to regulate and allow online sports betting. Depending on how the legislation is implemented, more states may decide to begin offering online gambling.
Before the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2010, it was illegal for Americans to place bets on the Internet. This act defines unlawful internet gambling as “a person who uses the Internet to place or receive a bet, or who transmits, or who facilitates transmission of, a bet over the Internet.” This act was aimed at commercial activity and has since been challenged on constitutional grounds.
Illegal internet gambling is a serious issue. Seven federal criminal statutes are implicated in this area. These include the Wire Act, the Federal Wire Act, the Travel Act, and the Criminal Code. As more and more people start to gamble online, the question of whether the federal government has the power to prosecute these transactions is becoming a hot topic.
One of the major arguments against the UIGEA is the Commercial Activity Clause, which says that Congress has the power to regulate commerce. However, this clause also applies to Internet casinos. For example, the UIGEA prohibits accepting financial instruments from illegal Internet bets. Another argument against the UIGEA is the Due Process Clause, which guarantees free speech. But, these attacks have failed to produce much success.
Since the UIGEA went into effect, the government has been attempting to find a solution to the issue. In November, the U.S. marshals seized $3.2 million from a company that was involved in illegal gambling. They charged the company with money laundering, as well as violating 18 U.S.C. 1955. After an appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the government.
Another issue raised by the federal government is the First Amendment. The First Amendment guarantees free speech in the United States. However, when it comes to gambling, there is little protection for a private home. Consequently, most state and federal officials have been concerned about the potential of the internet to allow illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. Some have also questioned the Commerce Clause.
While the state of Illinois has not yet begun allowing online casinos or poker, it does allow residents to wager on various sporting events. Several Native American tribes also operate sportsbook operations, while professional sports outlets like the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Cavaliers have a license to provide sportsbooks. Unlike in Ohio, bettors in Illinois cannot wager on in-state college games.