Using the Internet to conduct illegal gambling is a violation of seven federal criminal statutes. The Act also prohibits accepting financial instruments for illegal Internet bets.
The statutory definition of unlawful Internet gambling is “the act of receiving bets, placing bets, or otherwise attempting to place bets by means of the Internet.” The definition of unlawful Internet gambling also includes “using, or participating in, at least part of the Internet to engage in gambling.”
The UIGEA, the Travel Act, and the Wire Act are the main federal criminal statutes involved in the regulation of online gambling. In addition, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions prohibit illegal gambling business activities.
The Travel Act prohibits the promotion or facilitation of unlawful gambling and prohibits money laundering. The statute can be used to enforce a gambling business’s jurisdiction by establishing its nexus to interstate or foreign commerce. Additionally, the statute can be used to enforce its jurisdiction by establishing its nexus with a debt resulting from gambling. The statute can be used to enforce its jurisdiction by reference to shipments in interstate commerce, shipments of goods in foreign commerce, or debts resulting from gambling.
Several of the federal criminal statutes involved in the regulation of illegal Internet gambling have been challenged on constitutional grounds. Although attacks based on the Commerce Clause have enjoyed some success, due process arguments have been largely discredited.
The Travel Act has also been used to enforce its jurisdiction, which can be established by reference to the telecommunications component of the Internet, shipments in interstate commerce, or debts resulting from gambling. The Federal Communications Commission also has jurisdiction over common carriers and the leasing or furnishing of facilities.