The Federal Government’s Role in Regulating Online Gambling


Gambling involves wagering something of value on an uncertain, random, or unreliable event. It includes lotteries, casinos, sports betting, and pool-selling. Each state has a different set of laws regarding gambling. There are also federal laws that restrict the types of gambling activities that can be conducted in the United States.

The legality of online gambling is subject to a number of federal statutes. These include the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, the Wire Act, and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions. Moreover, the Commerce Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the Fifth Amendment have all been raised in attempts to regulate Internet gambling. However, attacks based on these constitutional guarantees have not been successful.

Congress has used its power under the Commerce Clause to regulate gambling on Native American lands. This power has been challenged by the United States on numerous grounds, including due process and the First Amendment. In some cases, however, the commercial nature of the gambling business has served to settle doubts regarding the validity of the Commerce Clause.

One of the most significant concerns has been whether the law’s application to internet gambling violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. The Commerce Clause doctrine is based on the idea that the federal government has control over any activity that occurs outside of state boundaries. Because of this theory, states have often been unable to enforce their gambling regulations. Nonetheless, there is a growing concern that the internet can be used to transport illegal gambling into state jurisdictions.

Gambling establishments often exist near state borders. This is because, in order to be a legal gambling business, owners must have a substantial and continuous operation for at least thirty days. During that period, the owners must also have gross revenues of at least $2,000. If they do not meet this requirement, they can be fined.

Aside from the Travel Act, federal legislation has also been passed to limit the types of gambling that can be conducted in the United States. For example, the Wire Act prohibits unlawful gambling on contests and sporting events. Also, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act governs gambling activity on Indian reservations. Although the IGRA does not specifically ban online gambling, it does limit the kinds of online gambling that can be conducted on Indian land.

Another issue has been the emergence of the concept of remote gaming. Since many gambling sites are available through the Internet, it may be difficult to determine the location of the activities. Therefore, the federal government has also argued that the dormant Commerce Clause doctrine should be applied to govern the regulation of activities conducted in an area outside of state jurisdiction.

Furthermore, a number of state officials have expressed the concerns that the Internet could be used to transport illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. This has prompted the Department of Justice to explore Internet gambling regulations. Consequently, a CRS Report RS22749 has been released, which cites state gambling laws and provides an abridged version of the text.