The Federal Government’s Role in Enforcement of Online Gambling Laws
Having an Internet connection makes it possible to engage in online gambling, but it doesn’t necessarily make it legal. It is illegal to conduct illegal Internet gambling under several federal statutes, including the Wire Act, the Federal Communications Commission’s UIGEA, and the federal Illegal Gambling Business Act.
There are also several state laws that are applicable to online gambling. For instance, a state may prohibit gambling on horse racing, or allow betting on college athletics. These laws vary from state to state, but there are certain similarities in their enforcement policies. Those laws are often augmented by federal regulations. Currently, only three states have legalized online gambling. However, there are numerous other states that are considering legislation. Some of these include New York, Nevada, and Virginia.
Another important issue related to the UIGEA is its carve-out for games of skill. This means that, while the law can prohibit illegal Internet gambling, it cannot prevent an individual state from passing its own legislation on the subject. There are several arguments for and against this, but one argument is that the commercial nature of the gambling industry may satisfy the Commerce Clause’s concerns. Certainly, an industry that can attract hundreds of thousands of players would need to be supervised, and some banks may refuse to process online gambling transactions in certain countries.
In the most practical sense, the best way to monitor Internet gambling is to create a comprehensive set of rules. This would help make the process more transparent and standardized, which would in turn make it easier for the government to legalize the activity. In addition, these rules could be supervised by the banks that process these transactions, as well. If such a system is implemented, it would allow for the government to weed out low-level violations of the law. This would be a more cost-effective approach than prosecuting individuals.
Those seeking to enforce federal gambling laws have often raised constitutional questions. One of these is the Due Process Clause, which is designed to protect free speech. In addition to the First Amendment, federal law has been challenged on other grounds, such as the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. While this attack has enjoyed some success, it does not address the question of whether the Commerce Clause can authorize a law to ban online gambling.
This is not to say that the aforementioned regulations are ineffective. It is true that they are not as comprehensive as the law’s proponents might have hoped. This is in part because there is no federal standard to measure online gaming. The best practice is to be responsible, and never gamble with money you can’t afford to lose. Even if you’re on a losing streak, you should still avoid gambling.
The most important legal aspect of gambling is state regulation. It is not unusual for state officials to express concern that illegal Internet gambling will bring it into their jurisdictions. In the case of New York, Republican Congressman Peter King introduced the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection Act of 2013. This would set up a new office of “gambling oversight” that would be attached to the Treasury Department.