During the late twentieth century, state-operated lotteries in the United States and Europe expanded rapidly. As the world entered the Information Age, however, online gambling became a new hot spot for the unsuspecting. Online casinos and gambling advertisements were flooding television and the internet. This boom in gambling activity coincided with a “poker boom” and resulted in millions of dollars being bet every day.
In the United States, however, online gambling was outlawed in 2000, despite the fact that the technology had already been around for decades. The United States Department of Justice announced that the Wire Act applied to all forms of Internet gambling. This law was a showpiece law that portended dark times for online gambling in the United States. Critics of the Justice Department’s move have argued that the law has no legal basis and that it stifles state efforts to repeal anti-gambling laws.
The first online gambling law was drafted in the late 1990s. The resulting bill, the PASPA, was deemed unconstitutional. While the law was the first of its kind in the United States, it was only the first of many attempts to regulate online gambling. In 2007, Rep. Barney Frank introduced HR 2046, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act.
This bill would modify UIGEA by requiring gambling operators to obtain a license from the director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The law would also prohibit banks from facilitating Internet gambling transactions.
In addition, the law would authorize the Department of Justice to issue warrants to search Internet gambling sites for evidence of criminal activity. In order to obtain a warrant, probable cause must be shown. Moreover, the law would also require gambling operators to obtain a license to advertise their sites. Advertising for online gambling might be considered aiding and abetting, depending on the specifics of the case.
Although gambling is illegal in the United States, it is legal in several European countries and some Caribbean nations. For example, in the United Kingdom, the gambling industry is regulated by the Gambling Commission. In some provinces of Canada, online gambling is also legal. In most European countries, however, state-licensed wagering on sporting events is also allowed.
The Internet Gambling: Overview of Issues was published by the Marquette Sports Law Journal in 2002. The report included a summary of the various types of gambling activities and their legalities. It also included a list of online gambling sites and their respective licensing authorities. The report also mentioned the existence of the “poker boom”.
Despite the legalities of online gambling, the Federal Government remains a staunch opponent of Internet gambling. This is evident from the fact that multiple bills have been introduced in the House and Senate over the past several years. Many of these bills have had no effect. In fact, many of the bills have been criticized for encroaching on state jurisdictions.
The CRS Report RS21984 also includes citations to the various state gambling laws. It is also possible to read the report in abridged form.