Online gambling is the process of betting on games of chance over the Internet. It includes sports betting, casinos, and virtual poker. Many countries allow this type of gambling, while others do not. Regardless of the legality of an individual country’s laws, there are benefits and risks to this form of gambling.
In the United States, there are federal criminal statutes involved with illegal online gambling. These include the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and 18 U.S.C. 1955. Some of these statutes have been challenged on constitutional grounds, thereby raising questions regarding the government’s legislative power.
These laws define illegal Internet gambling as placing bets on the Internet, receiving bets on the Internet, or transmitting bets on the Internet. The statute also defines “state” as any territory or possession of the U.S., including the District of Columbia. In addition, it does not include financial transaction providers. Some banks, meanwhile, may refuse to process online gambling transactions in certain nations. However, the commercial nature of the gambling industry has tempered some objections to the Commerce Clause.
In the case of United States v. Nicolaou, a 4th Circuit case, the parties in a petition involving a poker operation based in the state of Ohio provided customers with a login ID, and then played the game on a computer system on premises. The owner, manager, and 12 customers were arrested for violation of state gambling laws.
There is a growing concern about online gambling, as well as the potential for the Internet to bring illegal gambling into the United States. This issue is addressed in the CRS Report RS21984: “Internet Gambling: Overview of Issues,” published by the General Accounting Office (GAO) in December 2002. The report is available in abridged form.
Although there are many benefits to online gambling, the risks remain. The potential for fraud, financial ruin, and addiction are all concerns that should be taken seriously. The best way to protect yourself from these risks is to be responsible.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has jurisdiction over common carriers, and its powers include the right to stop leasing facilities. It can also prevent the furnishing of facilities. In fact, the FCC has already ruled that it would discontinue providing facilities if they were found to be used for unlawful Internet gambling.
Other cases have dealt with the use of credit cards and other forms of payment in connection with illegal Internet gambling. In one case, PayPal was warned that it could be prosecuted. Another case was the prosecution of a man who received a $3,000 fine for placing illegal bets.
As with all other forms of online gambling, there is a danger of falling into a gambling addiction. This can lead to substantial debt. Even if you play at a reputable casino, you can fall into a pattern of chasing wins at all costs. If you are going through a period of losing streak, close down the casino website to avoid exposing yourself to additional temptation.