Do Federal Laws Apply to Online Gambling?

online gambling

The federal government has launched several attempts to crack down on online gambling. These attempts have failed, but not entirely. Some cases have relied on constitutional arguments. Some have focused on the Due Process Clause and the Commerce Clause. Commerce Clause concerns have been satisfied by the commercial nature of the gambling industry, while free speech objections are weakened by the limitations in First Amendment protection. Due Process arguments are also weakened when the transactions take place within the United States.

Federal laws do apply to internet gambling, however. While gambling is largely a matter of state law, federal law often reinforces state laws. For this reason, state officials have feared that illegal gambling on the Internet may eventually invade their jurisdictions. They may also consider the economic impact of gambling on their respective states.

Illegal internet gambling is illegal under the Federal Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, and the Travel Act. In addition, using the internet to conduct online gambling activities violates certain provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Online gambling is a big business.