Federal and State Laws Relating to Online Gambling

Online gambling is an activity where people place bets. This includes sports betting, casinos, and online poker. Some states have approved legal Internet casinos. Other states have not.

There are several federal criminal statutes that regulate illegal Internet gambling. These include the Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions.

The Travel Act is another federal law that prohibits the use of interstate facilities for unlawful activities. Generally, the Act applies to Internet casinos. It also applies to players who use interstate facilities to place bets on sporting events.

Although the Commerce Clause of the Constitution has long been disputed, a commercial nature of the gambling business appears to satisfy the Clause. Still, questions arise regarding the scope of legislative power under the Clause. Similarly, attacks based on the First Amendment guarantee of free speech have not received a great deal of success.

In addition to the federal laws, there are state laws that apply to online gambling. For example, Illinois law requires that any person or organization who engages in online gambling register with the State Gaming Commission. However, the registration requirement will be suspended in 2022. Likewise, the Illinois Sportsbook Act does not allow residents of the state to place wagers on non-sporting events.

While these laws are largely enforced by the state, they have been challenged on constitutional grounds. One of these cases is United States v. K23 Group Financial Services.