Online gambling has become a global industry, but its legality remains uncertain. Several countries have laws prohibiting gambling. However, there are other issues that can complicate the enforcement of these laws. Some states are concerned that Internet gambling may be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions, and others have raised due process concerns about regulation of activities that take place in part overseas.
Many of the same laws and regulations that apply to land-based casinos also apply to Internet gambling. For example, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) limits the transfer of funds to a gambling site. The Travel Act applies to Internet gambling, as well as the use of interstate facilities for unlawful activities. A federal indictment charged the three biggest online poker operators, PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker, with UIGEA violations.
Although these indictments and other cases have brought the law into the public eye, they have not stopped the growth of the Internet gambling industry. In fact, it has grown exponentially. Today, there are hundreds of different online gambling sites in the U.S., with millions of people betting every day. These sites offer games like blackjack, roulette, sports betting, and virtual poker. While these sites are fun and exciting, they can be addictive, and there are risks associated with using these services.
While there are a number of potential legal issues with regulating online gambling, the first line of defense is to examine state laws. The laws that apply to gambling in each state vary, and there is no uniform federal law to guide these laws. But, in most cases, these are fairly clear-cut. State officials have expressed concern that the Internet could be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions, so they have been taking steps to address that concern.
Another line of defense is to examine the Commerce Clause. Specifically, this is the provision of the Constitution which says that Congress has the power to regulate commerce. Whether this power is a sufficient basis for the Federal government to regulate Internet gambling has been questioned. This is particularly true in light of the commercial nature of the industry. Nonetheless, the Commerce Clause has been used in attacks against UIGEA and other Internet gambling statutes.
As the federal government looks into the future, it is possible to see more federal laws aimed at online gambling. The Lopez Amendment focuses on weeding out low-level gambling cases. Other bills that have been introduced include the Remote Gaming Act, which addresses the issue of allowing the gaming of players in remote locations, and the Safe Port Act, which is designed to protect Americans from foreign terrorists.
There are numerous other legal issues surrounding the issue of online gambling, including whether the law is effective, and whether it will deter casual gamblers from participating. Public sentiment plays a big role in these matters. One of the most common objections to the law is that it restricts free speech. While this is a legitimate concern, the First Amendment guarantees free speech, so it cannot be claimed that the law violates this fundamental constitutional right.