Seven Federal Statutes Involved in Illegal Internet Gambling
Illegal Internet gambling is a crime under the Illegal Gambling Business Act. However, it’s not the only federal criminal statute involved. Below are seven other federal statutes implicated in the illegal Internet gambling trade.
Aside from the Wire Act, the most common federal criminal statutes involved in the illegal Internet gambling trade include the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). While these statutes are the law of the land, they have been largely ignored in the prosecution of online gambling.
The most important of these laws is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, or UIGEA, which was introduced into Congress in 2006. It is an act that is intended to curtail the nefarious activities associated with the online gambling industry. As with other federal criminal laws, UIGEA comes with some significant limitations. In particular, UIGEA prohibits financial instruments from being accepted as payment for illegal Internet bets. Additionally, UIGEA provides a number of factors to help weed out low-level gambling cases.
On the regulatory front, UIGEA is accompanied by a number of Congressional findings on the effects of the legislation on interstate commerce. One of the most notable findings is that it will likely affect casinos in New Jersey, where Governor Phil Murphy signed a sports betting bill into law in 2013.
However, as the aforementioned act is only a small step up from the old-fashioned “bet your dollar on the outcome of a baseball game,” the statute has yet to be put to good use. Not only is there an overlap between the two statutes, but a few of them have been challenged on constitutional grounds. Specifically, the statute is based on a question of due process. These arguments have proved to be unsatisfying, with little success thus far.
Another law that may be a nod to the UIGEA is the Liechtenstein International Lottery. Although the Liechtenstein Lottery isn’t the first online gambling venue for the general public, it is the first of its kind. Moreover, the lottery was a great example of the “smallest possible government intrusion into the online gambling industry.”
In addition to the UIGEA, the other major federal statutes regulating the online gambling industry include the Travel Act and the Online Gambling Regulation Act. While these statutes are not as controversial as the other two, they do raise some significant concerns. Nonetheless, they have a good chance of becoming a reality.
On a more technical note, there is a federal statute titled the CRS Report RS21984 that offers a brief summary of the federal criminal laws associated with online gambling. The report contains text of some of the most prominent statutes enacted by the federal government, as well as citations to state laws governing the same types of activities.
As is the case with other government actions, the UIGEA is a moving target, as state officials are not entirely sure how the enactment will affect their jurisdictions. This is especially true in states where the internet and mobile devices have already become ubiquitous.