The online gambling industry has grown immensely in the past five years. This is largely due to advances in technology. While the traditional casino games have been available for years, the advent of new, more creative themes has encouraged the development of new gaming methods.
Illegal Internet gambling implicates seven federal criminal statutes. These laws include the Travel Act, the Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions.
Several constitutional objections have been raised against federal enforcement of illegal Internet gambling. Some of the issues raised are whether the government has the right to prohibit conduct that occurs within the United States, and whether the Commerce Clause enables Congress to regulate activities taking place overseas.
However, some of these questions may be unfounded. The commercial nature of the gambling industry seems to satisfy doubts about the Commerce Clause. In addition, federal law reinforces state laws in cases where interstate or foreign elements are involved.
For example, the Wire Act, which is the basis for the prohibition against illegal gambling on sporting events, also covers internet casinos. State officials have expressed concern that the internet could be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions.
The Travel Act, on the other hand, applies to players who use interstate facilities for unlawful activities. Although this is not a direct basis for prohibiting internet gambling, the fact that interstate and foreign elements can frustrate state enforcement policies is an issue.