During the late 1990s, online gambling became a popular activity in the United States. There were about fifteen gambling websites in 1996, and the first online poker room was launched in 1998. A Frost & Sullivan report indicated that online gambling revenues in 1998 reached $830 million. Several countries in the Caribbean and European Union have legalized online gambling, while others restrict it or prohibit it altogether. While online gambling is primarily a matter of state law, the federal government does play an important role in its regulation.
The US Department of Justice has made clear that online gambling in the United States is illegal, and that it will enforce the law. However, some state officials fear that the Internet may be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. For example, a federal marshal has seized $3.2 million from Discovery Communications for advertising on the Tropical Paradise gambling site.
The US Department of Justice has also asserted that the Wire Act of 1961 applies to all forms of Internet gambling. This includes online gambling, sports betting and casino games. However, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the Department of Justice, stating that the Wire Act does not apply to digital wagering.
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission are two examples of licensing and regulating bodies for online gambling. These bodies regulate the operations of online gambling organisations, attempting to keep them fair and honest. They also issue gaming licences to online casinos and poker rooms.
Many states are considering legislation to legalize online gambling. In fact, New Jersey became the first state to legalize online casino games in 2013. New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement regulates internet wagering in the Garden State. Some states, including Nevada, have legalized online poker. A recent study by Harvard Medical School indicated that most online gamers play in moderate fashion.
States may also ban online gambling. For example, a state in Hawaii may prohibit gambling altogether. However, the federal government does have authority to regulate gambling in the United States, and has taken several steps to address online gambling. In 2018, the Department of Justice paved the way for states to pass legislation regulating online gambling. In addition, the US Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which had prohibited sports betting on the Internet.
The Internet Gambling Regulation and Consumer Protection Act of 2013 would create a common federal standard for online gambling. It would also create an office of gambling oversight that would be attached to the Treasury Department. The gambling lobby has argued that uniform standards would make it easier to legalize online gambling and to expand the business. Its opponents have argued that the morality of gambling is a large obstacle to further regulating online gambling.
Several states, including Louisiana and Arkansas, provide limited online gambling services. Others, including Colorado and Georgia, offer limited services. State laws may prohibit online casino games, or limit them to state lotteries.