Online gambling includes sports betting, casinos, and virtual poker. It is a growing industry with strong appeal. However, it also raises some questions.
First, there is the question of whether the federal government has the authority to regulate Internet gambling. While federal law primarily protects individual interests, the Commerce Clause doctrine suggests that the government has the power to regulate business transactions. In other words, the Commerce Clause may preempt state action in the Internet arena.
Second, there is the issue of how to prosecute illegal Internet gambling. The Wire Act, for instance, is a federal law that is applicable to wagering businesses. Although it is not strictly applied to online casinos, it has been used to prosecute such businesses. The statute can be enforced by fines and imprisonment.
In the end, the courts have been divided on this question. The Fifth Circuit held that the Wire Act is applicable to wagering businesses, while the Sixth Circuit held that it applies only to commercial activities.
Third, the courts have been divided on the question of whether Internet gambling violates the Due Process Clause. The Fifth Circuit found that the statute does not prevent a person from using the internet to engage in illegal bets. The Sixth Circuit agreed, however, with the Department of Justice, finding that the Wire Act is not an absolute prohibition against a person engaging in gambling.
Finally, the courts have been divided on whether the Internet can be used to bring illegal gambling into states. Often, gambling establishments are located near state borders. This has created a problem because the dormant Commerce Clause doctrine does not allow state officials to enforce laws against gambling in other states.