Whether or not online gambling is legal depends on the law of the state where the gambling is being conducted. If the act is in violation of state law, it will likely be prosecuted in state court. On the other hand, if it is in violation of federal law, the case will be brought in federal court. There are several federal criminal statutes that are implicated in online gambling, including the Wire Act and the Illegal Gambling Business Act. These statutes make it illegal to use the internet to place, receive or transmit bets.
The Wire Act is a federal law that bans the gambling of money on sporting events. While the Illegal Gambling Business Act makes it illegal to use the internet to place bets, the Wire Act is specific to the gambling of money on sporting events. The Wire Act makes it illegal to place bets on sporting events that take place in other states, regardless of the state of the event. The Illegal Gambling Business Act makes it illegal for Internet poker operators to engage in money laundering.
The first online gambling venue for the general public was the Liechtenstein International Lottery. This venue operated for more than seven years, but the operation was closed in 2004. Since then, several other gambling venues have been set up. Some of these venues specialize in one particular form of gambling, while others offer a variety of games. Many of these venues are compatible with smartphones and laptops. They also feature software to place bets and enter contests. The software is designed to be compatible with any computer that has Internet access.
Other federal statutes that are implicated in online gambling include the Federal Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions. The Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Act (RICO) makes it illegal for gambling business operators to operate illegally. In addition to RICO provisions, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) prohibits Internet poker operators from accepting financial instruments for illegal Internet bets.
Section 1956 creates several different crimes for laundering money, including laundering with the intent to promote or conceal illicit activities, laundering to evade taxes, laundering for law enforcement stings, and laundering for international purposes. These crimes create several different facets of illegal gambling, which have led to constitutional arguments on the part of the government. However, these arguments have had little success.
In addition to these federal statutes, many state laws also prohibit illegal gambling. Some state laws prohibit gambling on sporting events, while others bar certain forms of sexual activity in the home. Some state officials have also expressed concern that the internet could bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. There are also questions about the Commerce Clause and whether the legislative power to regulate the activities of Internet gambling falls under the First Amendment. The questions about the Commerce Clause have been raised by the General Accounting Office, now the Government Accountability Office.