Despite the enumeration of federal and state law, it is illegal to engage in illegal Internet gambling. This includes placing, receiving, and transmitting bets over the internet. It is also illegal to engage in illegal Internet gambling via financial transactions. Several federal statutes are implicated, and the question of how to enforce these laws has been in the minds of state and federal officials alike. Some of these statutes are well known, while others are relatively new. The following is a brief survey of the most significant statutes to be on your mind as you browse through the web.
Among the most important of these statutes is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which makes illegal Internet gambling on the Web a federal crime. The UIGEA consists of seven federal criminal statutes. These statutes include the Wire Act, the Travel Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, and the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) statute. These statutes have been challenged on constitutional grounds, but the federal government has stepped in to ensure that online gambling operations adhere to the letter of the law. In the past, the federal government has warned financial companies that it could fine them for conducting illegal Internet gambling activities. Those companies have responded by launching a major public relations campaign.
As it turns out, the best and most effective way to enforce the laws is to rely on the federal government’s arsenal of lawyers and investigators. The UIGEA makes Internet gambling illegal in all 50 states and District of Columbia, and while state officials have been relatively lenient in their approach to online gambling, the federal government has a better grasp on the subject.
The other major federal statute that has the internet at its core is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – aka the Communications Commission (CC). The CC has authority over common carriers, which includes the Internet, and can prohibit or levy fines on companies that fail to comply with its telecommunications regulations. In addition, it has the power to prohibit the leasing or furnishing of facilities or services that will aid in the perpetration of illegal Internet gambling. The CC can also issue cease and desist orders, which is a good thing for the average online gambler.
A related statute, the Gambling Devices Transportation Act (also known as the Johnson Act), also demonstrates the federal government’s attention to the Internet’s potential to facilitate illicit gambling operations. While the law’s application is limited, the statute demonstrates the federal government’s willingness to enforce its responsibilities. Those who take the time to read through the FCC’s website may come away with an understanding of the agency’s role in regulating the Internet’s potential to facilitate illegal Internet gambling.
The most effective way to enforce federal laws regarding illegal Internet gambling is to employ the best practices and enact laws that are tailored to the needs of online gamblers. Those best practices include proper identification and verification of all customers, the prevention of money laundering, and the proper disposal of seized assets. The FCC’s mandate also allows for the use of appropriate data security standards.