The Legal and Constitutional Issues Associated With Online Gambling
Online gambling laws have been challenged on several grounds. Those based on the Commerce Clause and the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech have had limited success. Commerce Clause doubts are satisfied by the commercial nature of gambling, and free speech objections suffer due to the limited First Amendment protection for crimes facilitating speech. Due Process arguments are also weakened when financial transactions take place within the United States. This article will discuss some of the legal and constitutional issues surrounding online gambling.
Illicit Internet gambling
Illicit Internet gambling is a criminal activity that involves interstate and foreign elements. Federal criminal statutes prohibit the placement, acceptance, and transmission of bets over the internet. These crimes include remote gaming and sports betting, and they often involve the use of telecommunications services. In addition, some states have prohibited online gambling and have laws relating to this activity.
The United States is considering criminal charges for operators of illicit Internet gambling websites. A recent criminal case involves She Zhijiang, a Chinese citizen with a Cambodian passport. The charges against him include violations of the UIGEA and 18 U.S.C. 1955, as well as money laundering.
Federal criminal laws prohibiting it
Unlawful Internet gambling is illegal under federal criminal laws. These laws are based on 31 U.S.C. 5362(10), which defines illegal Internet gambling as any gambling that is conducted exclusively on the internet. This federal law may be used as a deterrent to people from committing online gambling offenses, but it is not the only law governing this type of activity.
Under these laws, online gambling businesses can’t accept payment from U.S. citizens if they are found to be involved in illegal Internet gambling. Moreover, the law prohibits money laundering, so gambling businesses can’t accept payment from illegal Internet users.
Constitutional objections to prosecuting it
Prohibitionists may object to the idea of prosecuting online gambling, but they cannot expect the postal service to stop delivering mail if the courts decide the law violates the Constitution. Furthermore, the Postal Service is opposed to law enforcement spying on private correspondence. In addition, blocking outgoing mail sent to specific addresses won’t prevent gambling, because gamblers can change their P.O. boxes at any time, or even drop off outgoing correspondence without a return address.
State laws regulating it
Many states have laws that restrict online gambling. These laws are generally ineffective in their enforcement, and some states have even banned online gambling. Despite this, the federal government considers online gambling to be legal, although the state laws vary. Several states also prohibit cryptocurrency-based platforms. A recent case involved a bitcoin poker website known as Seals with Clubs, which was caught on US soil. Its owner argued that the website was not a casino, but rather a social gambling site, and he was sentenced to two years of probation and a $25,000 fine.
While many states are resistant to iGaming, some have pushed for legislation to legalize the industry. In Indiana, for instance, lawmakers considered introducing an online gambling bill. Gov. Andrew Cuomo resisted this legislation, and he’s due to step down in August 2021. While the bill failed, most major operators have a presence in the state, especially in mobile sports betting. Rush Street Interactive, BetMGM, and DraftKings all have large customer bases in the state.