Federal Laws on Online Gambling

Online Gambling

Using the Internet to participate in illegal gambling is illegal under seven federal criminal statutes. The Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA) and the Wire Act both specifically ban such activity. Other federal statutes include the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions.

The most comprehensive federal law on gambling is the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), which regulates gambling on Indian lands. A related statute is the Gambling Devices Transportation Act (GDTA), also known as the Johnson Act.

The Travel Act is another major federal statute implicated by illegal gambling on the Internet. The law prohibits facilitating or promoting the initiation or facilitation of unlawful gambling, as well as money laundering. This statute has been a contentious issue as state officials have expressed apprehension that the Internet could be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is responsible for licensing and regulating common carriers, which includes Internet providers. It also has the power to stop providing or discontinue the leasing of facilities. The FCC may require gambling businesses to adhere to security measures, such as age verification, and to report information on gambling transactions to the FCC.

The federal government also has the power to fine individuals or businesses engaged in illegal Internet gambling. A fine of up to five years in prison may be levied. It is also possible for the FCC to bar facilities from being used for illegal gambling. The FCC’s most recent actions against gambling business owners include the seizure of $3.2 million from Discovery Communications and the initiation of criminal charges against five Internet poker operators.