Online gambling is the act of placing bets and wagers over the Internet. Various forms of online gambling include sports betting, casinos, virtual poker, and bingo. These types of gambling are becoming more popular thanks to technological advancements. The competition is becoming more intense, and game makers are trying to find ways to stay competitive.
The United States has a number of laws that are specifically aimed at illegal gambling on the internet. One is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). This act is designed to stop the transfer of financial instruments from those that place illegal bets over the Internet. However, it is also used to prosecute criminals who participate in commercial gambling activities on the web.
Although the law has been interpreted in a variety of ways, it is clear that the Commerce Clause is not the main issue. Rather, the UIGEA has raised constitutional questions. Specifically, there have been attacks against the law on the grounds that it violates the First Amendment. But these attacks have been largely unsuccessful.
Another argument is that state law is the primary source of protection against unlawful internet gambling. State officials have voiced concern that the Internet will be used to transport illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. As a result, federal law reinforces state law in cases where it is needed. For example, New Jersey recently passed a bill that made sports betting legal in the state. Governor Phil Murphy signed the legislation into law.
Some have suggested that the Commerce Clause is unconstitutional because it allows the government to regulate commerce without respect to the privacy of individuals. Other opponents have suggested that the act is not a violation of the Constitution because it is primarily a commercial activity. In any event, the presence of an interstate element in these activities frustrates enforcement policies based on state law.
However, the Commerce Clause has been challenged on other grounds, as well. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and the right to due process. However, this protection is not applicable to a crime that only serves to facilitate speech. So, the Commerce Clause raises doubts about the extent of its power over federal statutes that regulate gambling.
In addition to the Commerce Clause, there is also the issue of the Due Process Clause. Although this clause has been criticized for failing to protect individual rights, it has not been found to be a significant barrier to prosecution of illegal gambling. There have been few successful attacks based on the Due Process Clause.
While it is possible that the Federal Communications Commission could cease to provide facilities to online gambling businesses, the Commerce Clause has not been directly implicated. On the other hand, there are questions about the power of the Commission to monitor the transmission of information and the ability of it to enforce laws against the gambling industry.
Regardless of the issues involved, it is clear that the growth of the online gambling industry is having a significant impact on the casino industry. Casinos have already begun to adopt the technology of the Internet, and the competition is only set to get tougher.