Currently, online gambling in the United States is primarily centered on casino games. It also includes sports betting and virtual poker. In 2021, the market was estimated to be worth 9.5 billion U.S. dollars.
Gambling activities include the following: lotteries, casinos, sports betting, pool-selling, bookmaking, roulette wheels and slot machines. These activities require a wager on the outcome of a contest of chance, and are subject to various penalties under the Gambling Act.
In recent years, gambling activity on Indian reservations has grown rapidly. In addition, a number of state officials have expressed concerns that Internet-based gambling could eventually be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. In the meantime, federal preemption has impeded states’ efforts to regulate gambling activities on Indian reservations within state borders.
A number of federal criminal statutes are implicated by illegal Internet gambling. These include: the Wire Act, which applies to wagering businesses, and the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA), which imposes a number of criminal penalties on companies that accept or process financial instruments for illegal Internet bets.
The Department of Justice maintains that all Internet gambling in the United States is illegal. However, the department has not taken any aggressive action to prosecute Internet gambling operators.
A number of congressional investigations have explored the regulatory framework for Internet gambling. The House of Representatives held a hearing on the matter. Several bills were introduced to soften the federal Internet gambling law.