Several federal criminal statutes are implicated by illegal Internet gambling. These include the Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and the Travel Act. The Federal Communications Commission also has jurisdiction over common carriers, and may discontinue providing facilities or leasing or maintaining them. In addition, some state officials have expressed concern about the internet being used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. However, these concerns have been met with little success.
Section 1956 of the federal criminal code creates several distinct crimes that are relevant to online gambling, including laundering, laundering for law enforcement stings, concealment, and international purposes. However, the question of whether the commercial nature of gambling activities satisfies the Commerce Clause has been raised. In addition, the First Amendment provides limited protection for crimes that facilitate speech. As a result, this limited protection encumbers free speech objections to these crimes. However, this is not always a particularly demanding standard.
The Wire Act prohibits illegal gambling on sporting events. In addition, this law also prohibits illegal gambling within a contest. The law has been interpreted to impose a criminal liability on individuals who place bets, receive bets, or conduct gambling transactions. In addition, it provides appropriate data security standards. The law also prohibits the accepting of financial instruments from illegal Internet bets. These laws have been enforced by federal prosecutors. In addition, the United States marshals have seized several illegal gambling businesses, including Tropical Paradise in Costa Rica and Discovery Communications in New York City.
The United States Department of Justice has taken several actions against Internet gambling businesses, including indictments and criminal complaints. In one such case, K23 Group Financial Services is accused of money laundering and violating 18 U.S.C. 1955, the UIGEA, and other federal statutes. The government also took action against Sporting News, which agreed to pay a $4.2 million fine and launch a public service campaign.
The Commerce Clause has also been used to challenge the federal criminal laws that are related to illegal Internet gambling. However, the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause have been more successful in thwarting these attacks. This is because financial transactions within the United States are involved, which frustrates due process arguments. Although this does not provide a complete answer to the question of whether the Commerce Clause allows for the enactment of criminal statutes, it does provide a foundation for the prosecution of Internet gambling.
In addition, the State of New York has a law that provides for the crime of “gambling activity.” This includes the act of entering a bet and transmitting information from New York State via the internet. Similarly, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has a law that prohibits illegal gambling within its jurisdiction. There have been other cases involving similar issues, including the 6th Circuit’s decision in United States v. Nicolaou. This case involved five individuals placing bets on a sports event, and the gross revenues from the gambling activity were $2,000 per person for thirty days.