Online gambling is illegal in the United States. This is because there are several federal statutes that apply. However, there are also numerous state laws that regulate online gambling. Depending on the state, players may have to be of a certain age to participate.
The Wire Act is one of the major federal criminal statutes that is implicated by illegal Internet gambling. It prohibits betting on sports and contests, as well as unauthorized transportation of lottery tickets between states.
Another federal criminal law is the Illegal Gambling Business Act. It charges money laundering, unlawfully accepting financial instruments from Internet bets, and other related offenses.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 is another federal statute that restricts sports betting. Although there are a few exceptions to the law, it still remains in place.
In December 2002, the General Accounting Office (GAO) published a report, “Internet Gambling: Overview of Issues,” laying out the current legal status of gambling. Among other things, the report noted that, although state laws were the primary authority for regulating gambling, there were significant concerns about the ability of state enforcement policies to combat criminal activity.
In addition, there were due process concerns over the regulation of activities occurring in part overseas. Those concerns were raised in the case of United States v. Nicolaou.
Unlike most federal crimes, the Commerce Clause provides a measure of protection against such regulation. In that case, the court found that the commercial nature of the gambling business satisfied the Clause.