Internet gambling is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. While many countries prohibit online gambling, there are a number of legal alternatives for people to enjoy online poker, sports betting, casinos, and bingo. In the United States, gambling laws vary from state to state. In addition, there are a variety of federal criminal statutes that are involved in illegal Internet gambling.
These statutes are the Illegal Gambling Business Act, Wire Act, and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions. In the United States, online gambling is considered unlawful when it is performed in violation of the Wire Act, or when it is conducted for the purpose of illegally evading taxes or concealing the activities of illegal gambling businesses.
In addition to these federal laws, the First Amendment protects free speech, but the commercial nature of gambling does not seem to satisfy Commerce Clause arguments. While many have suggested that the federal government has the power to regulate and tax interstate commercial gambling, that argument has been met with little success.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) recently published a report on the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The report discusses several issues related to Internet gambling, and includes citations to state laws.
A number of cases have been litigated regarding the enforcement of federal gambling laws. Among them are the case of United States v. K23 Group Financial Services, the case of United States v. Nicolaou, and the case of United States v. Boyd.