Several federal criminal statutes may be implicated in cases of illegal Internet gambling. These include the Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, the Travel Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
The Wire Act prohibits unlawful gambling on sports contests. Similarly, the Travel Act bans unlawful gambling on interstate commerce. The Travel Act also prohibits the promotion of unlawful gambling and money laundering. However, it has been argued that it can be difficult to enforce enforcement policies because of the interstate or foreign elements. In such cases, state officials have feared that the internet could be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. The federal government has also stepped in to enforce federal laws in cases of illegal Internet gambling.
The Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA) is a federal statute that imposes penalties on owners of illegal Internet gambling businesses. The owners of such businesses are subject to up to five years in prison. In addition, they are prohibited from accepting payment for any illegal Internet gambling. There is also a provision limiting how much money an illegal gambling business can spend in one day. An illegal gambling business must have a gross revenue of at least two thousand dollars in a thirty-day period.
Section 1956 creates several distinct crimes. The crimes include laundering with the purpose of concealing or evading tax liability, money laundering, and laundering to promote an illicit activity. In addition, the statute prohibits money laundering that involves more than $10,000 in illegal gambling proceeds at one time. These provisions have raised constitutional objections to prosecuting illegal Internet gambling.
A number of courts have held that the First Amendment does not protect speech that promotes a crime. However, there have been few successful attacks on this premise. In fact, many have found that the commercial nature of gambling has been sufficient to satisfy Commerce Clause concerns. It may be a good idea to consider whether the Commerce Clause does protect speech in the context of gambling.
In addition to the federal criminal statutes, several state criminal statutes are also implicated in cases of illegal Internet gambling. Some states have banned online gambling, while others have not. Others have limited proscriptions to gambling businesses. These laws are not necessarily particularly demanding. In New York, the act of transmitting information from New York via the Internet constitutes gambling activity. However, it is important to remember that state laws vary widely. Some states have laws that restrict certain forms of sexual conduct within the home.
The first general public venue for online gambling was the Liechtenstein International Lottery. In addition to lottery tickets, the site hosted a variety of games, including bingo and virtual poker. The site has been cited in several court cases, including United States v. Grey, United States v. Mick, United States v. Heacock, and United States v. Nicolaou. The sites also hosted advertisements for the Tropical Paradise, a casino operation in Costa Rica.