Using the internet to play gambling games is illegal in the United States. It violates the Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions.
The Wire Act prohibits gambling on sports events, contests, and interstate commerce. The Illegal Gambling Business Act punishes owners of illegal gambling businesses. These individuals can be imprisoned for up to five years.
The UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) is a federal statute that regulates online gambling businesses. It defines unlawful internet gambling as receiving, transmitting, or placing bets or wagers over the Internet. The UIGEA also prohibits the use of financial instruments to facilitate illegal Internet bets.
These statutes, along with other federal criminal statutes, can be enforced against illegal internet gambling. However, the Commerce Clause has been raised as a constitutional objection to prosecuting illegal Internet gambling.
Section 1956 of the Criminal Code creates several distinct crimes. It is illegal to launder funds for the purpose of disguise, evade tax, and promote illicit activity. These crimes have been used to impede the federal government’s ability to prosecute Internet gambling on a state-by-state basis.
In the United States, a “state” means any territory or possession of the United States. This includes the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. It also includes any state, territory, or possession of the United States that has laws regarding illegal gambling.
The Federal Communications Commission has jurisdiction over common carriers. In other words, the Federal Communications Commission can revoke licenses or stop furnishing facilities. It can also discontinue the leasing of facilities.