Online gambling is the act of placing bets and playing casino games via the internet. The act is also referred to as electronic sports betting and virtual poker. These activities are performed on desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. It includes poker, blackjack, and video slots.
Some of the more popular online gambling sites are poker rooms, sports betting operations, and casinos. There are also mobile applications for sports betting. However, the legality of the activity is still up in the air. While the federal government has taken a stance, most states have not. In some cases, state laws restrict websites from offering gambling. Several of these laws include the Gambling Act, the Wire Act, and the Illegal Gambling Business Act.
Regardless of the legality of online gambling, the practice is certainly not for the faint of heart. This is because the act involves wagering on a game of chance. Hence, the act is not protected by the First Amendment’s privacy rights. Nonetheless, many of these sites offer bonuses and promotions for their players. Moreover, they have advanced software to help players play and enter contests.
Despite the fact that there are no federal statutes specifically aimed at online gambling, there are seven federal criminal statutes that have been implicated by illegal gambling on the internet. These statutes include the Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, and the Travel Act. Combined, these statutes prohibit the unlawful use of the internet to gamble, the sale of gambling-related merchandise, and the acceptance of financial instruments from illegal Internet bets.
Another federal statute, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), regulates the commercial activity associated with online gambling. It covers three aspects: age verification, location verification, and appropriate data security standards. UIGEA is accompanied by Congressional findings on the impact of the act on interstate commerce. Although the act contains some arbitrary and capricious restrictions, such as the prohibition on providing financial transaction providers with information on users’ addresses and phone numbers, the act has been credited with reducing online gambling by a large percentage.
Whether or not the UIGEA will succeed in its efforts to control online gambling remains to be seen. In addition to the law’s limitations, there are a number of objections to the act, primarily involving its effects on the First Amendment.
Among them is the question of whether the Commerce Clause allows the government to enforce laws that only serve a functional purpose. As with any legislative power, questions arise about whether the act constitutes a valid exercise of the power. Nevertheless, a number of attacks on the Commerce Clause have been met with little success.
Despite these concerns, online gambling has become increasingly popular in the last few years. Currently, nearly half of all states have some form of online gambling regulation in place. And more are expected to follow suit. Of these states, Washington and Oregon have the strictest regulations. A number of online gambling sites are only compatible with computers running Windows.