Online gambling is a great way for people to place bets on sports games or other online activities without having to leave their homes. Typically, players use credit cards to make their wagers. Some people also make bets on horse races. Other types of gambling include casinos and lotteries.
Gambling has been around for a long time. It has evolved into a popular activity as technology has advanced. People can now place bets on a wide variety of sports and other activities, from the outcome of a sporting event to the outcome of a game of poker. Several sites offer both traditional casino games and sports betting.
Although the law is not yet entirely clear on the subject, it has been noted that states have different laws governing gambling. In some cases, state legislation may even be the basis for federal laws. Generally speaking, state lawmakers have expressed concern that online gambling could be used to transport illegal activities into their jurisdictions.
The CRS report RS21984 cites several state statutes that are relevant to the topic. A list of the state statutes can be found in the abridged version of the report. There is also a brief review of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and its various facets.
UIGEA and other federal laws that pertain to the topic have received more than their fair share of criticism. In particular, the Commerce Clause has been a source of confusion. This is particularly true when considering the legal ramifications of transactions that occur across state lines. Those same legal complications can frustrate state enforcement efforts. For example, if a gambler uses a site located in one state to conduct an off-state transaction, he may be subject to the same penalties as a citizen from another state.
Another issue is the definition of “state” as well as the question of whether it includes territories and possessions of the United States. For example, in California, it would be unconstitutional to prosecute an Internet gambler from Hawaii. However, the state of New York may consider such an offense, as an act of transmitting information from New York via the internet constitutes a gambling activity within the state’s borders.
Aside from the aforementioned state statutes, there are also a few federal criminal statutes that are implicated by illegal Internet gambling. One such statute is the Travel Act. The Act regulates the activities of common carriers that are interstate in nature. While the law is a work in progress, the Lopez amendment is the most sweeping and contains several elements that could help narrow down the field.
As is often the case, the best defense is to use your brain. When it comes to the UIGEA, the best course of action is to avoid making an off-state financial transaction. That way, you can avoid penalties.
The best way to ensure you are not caught up in an online poker ring is to stick to a budget and play only within your means. A good rule of thumb is to choose a reputable casino with fast and secure banking options. Once you are ready to start playing, there are hundreds of sites offering a variety of gambling games.