Online gambling is a growing trend. It includes gambling on sports, casinos, and virtual poker. Currently, there are twenty states that allow residents to place wagers on online poker sites. Some of these states include Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, and Washington. In some cases, the minimum age for wagering may vary from state to state.
The first legal internet gambling venue was the Liechtenstein International Lottery. A number of US states have enacted legislation to regulate or ban online gambling. There are also many websites that offer games of chance and skill, such as bingo and dice. These services are offered under the supervision of the Gaming Control Boards of each state.
Despite the popularity of online gambling, it is uncertain whether or not the federal government has preempted state action. There are also questions about the extent to which the Commerce Clause doctrine applies to the Internet. This is especially true when it comes to sports betting, since twenty states have proposed laws for legalizing the activity.
Although the Department of Justice has taken a dim view of online gambling, it has not blocked states from passing a wide array of laws. In fact, in 2011 the department allowed state legislatures to pass legislation regulating Internet gambling. Until that time, the Wire Act of 1961 governed online gambling in the U.S. However, the UIGEA, or the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, has stepped in.
Several bills have been introduced in Congress to soften the federal law on online gambling. In addition to the UIGEA, there are also the Skill Game Protection Act and the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act. These laws would clarify the Wire Act and exempt certain forms of gaming from its purview. They also provide factors to help weed out low-level gambling crimes.
The UIGEA has also been challenged on constitutional grounds, specifically due process and the First Amendment. Similarly, the Travel Act has been a point of contention. While the UIGEA is a federal statute, it is unlikely that states will take on the task of enforcing this law on a regular basis.
On the other hand, there are some legal internet gambling sites that have made it on the strength of the aforementioned UIGEA. One such site is Tropical Paradise, which is a casino operation in Costa Rica. Another example is the American Banker, which reported a series of illegal Internet bets.
The Department of Justice has recently resorted to a combination of technical jargon and statutory language to combat online gambling. For instance, it released a report titled “Remote Gaming: The Legalities, Legal Limits, and Technology Challenges” and a short CRS Report titled “Unlawful Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act.” Moreover, the federal government has argued that the most efficient way to combat online gambling is to stop it at its source. Interestingly, these arguments are not always demanding.
Despite the legal issues surrounding the Internet, it’s clear that there are many advantages to a legal, regulated system. As for the downside, internet gambling could open the door to gambling directly into the home, which would make it easier for addicts to gamble.