Online gambling is a form of gaming which is played through the Internet. It can take the form of sports betting, casino games, or virtual poker. Some of these are more popular than others.
Online gambling was first introduced to the public through the Liechtenstein International Lottery. Since then, more states have passed laws to allow for online casinos and sports betting. This has been a hot topic in the United States.
While the legality of internet gambling remains debated, there are federal criminal statutes that are implicated. These include the Illegal Gambling Business Act, the Wire Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions.
Federal law also reinforces state law in cases of unlawful gambling. Although a lack of a right to privacy has been raised in some instances, perceptions of necessity are not always tenable.
There have been a number of constitutional challenges to the federal gambling laws. The cases generally involve questions of legislative power.
The Commerce Clause has been an important issue in these cases. The commercial nature of the gambling business has been deemed a sufficient defense to the clause’s concerns. However, questions of due process have also been raised.
Due process concerns have been raised when laws are passed to regulate activities that occur in part overseas. Additionally, attacks on the First Amendment guarantee of free speech have not proved effective.
Laws that regulate Internet gambling have been challenged on constitutional grounds. In the case of the UIGEA, the Department of Justice charged an Internet poker operator with violations of 18 U.S.C. 1955.