Online gambling is also known as e-gambling and involves betting on games over the internet. It’s not just casinos and sports betting, however. You can play poker online, as well as wager on horse races. Some sites even allow players from different countries to compete in tournaments.
While there are no federal laws that directly address online gambling, some states have enacted legislation of their own. For example, the state of Pennsylvania’s Gaming Control Board grants licenses to Internet gambling service providers. This means that companies like PayPal, which accepts payments from online bettors, could face legal prosecution if they do so in violation of the law.
One of the first online gambling venues for the general public was the Liechtenstein International Lottery. Other examples include the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and the United Kingdom Gambling Commission.
While some states have enacted their own laws, federal preemption has kept them at bay. As a result, state officials have expressed concern that the Internet could be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. The Department of Justice has explored this issue on a number of levels. In addition, several House Representatives have introduced bills to soften the federal Internet gambling law, including the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act.
There are several issues to consider with the UIGEA, including whether it will affect interstate commerce. Additionally, some question the legislative power of the Commerce Clause, which theorizes that the power to tax and regulate the conduct of commerce lies with the federal government. Nevertheless, the UIGEA includes factors to help weed out low-level gambling cases.
Several other laws may be applicable, such as the Wire Act. If the Wire Act applies to your gambling operation, then you could be fined and imprisoned. Likewise, the Travel Act applies to Internet casinos.
Various states have enacted their own laws to entice gamblers, and others haven’t. However, the federal government has been able to reinforce state laws in the cases where they are not enough.
The Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act would regulate the business end of the industry, but would not interfere with the ability of Internet operators to take bets from the U.S. Aside from the aforementioned act, other federal law would be necessary to fully protect consumers and the nation from online gambling.
Another federal law, the Travel Act, applies to players who use interstate facilities for unlawful activities. However, the statute does not provide a comprehensive definition of the term.
Despite the various state and federal laws, some states have opted to allow their residents to participate in Internet gambling. States such as West Bengal, for instance, have opted to make offline poker a legal activity, as well. Similarly, the Caribbean nation of Antigua has opted to make Internet gambling legal.
Ultimately, the most effective way to protect consumers from online gambling is to create a unified set of laws to govern the industry. Congress should look into the feasibility of such a bill, while at the same time recognizing that the laws of the world differ from one country to another.