During the late 1990s, a number of gambling websites began popping up. These included sports books and horse racing betting markets. A Frost & Sullivan report indicated that online gambling revenues surpassed $830 million in 1998. In December 2002, the General Accounting Office (GAO) published an overview of the internet gambling industry, highlighting several issues.
The first major online gambling venue for the general public was the Liechtenstein International Lottery. However, it was not until 1998 that the first online poker room was introduced. Some provinces in Canada have legalized online gambling, and several nations in the Caribbean Sea have online gambling laws as well. There are also mobile gambling sites, which means that people can play games of skill or chance for money while on the go. These include casinos, sportsbooks, and virtual poker.
In 1999, Congress proposed a bill, called the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act (IGPA), which would have banned all forms of online gambling in the United States. Although the bill was eventually quashed, it did provide federal regulators with the authority to enforce laws against illegal gambling. It also threatened to inhibit state rights to repeal anti-gambling laws. In response, the US Department of Justice announced that the Wire Act applied to all forms of Internet gambling.
The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act was later renamed the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act (HR 2046). The bill would amend the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) by requiring gambling facilities to be licensed and that the director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FCE) oversee the licensing process. Similarly, it would require operators of Internet gambling facilities to comply with federal data security standards.
The “biggest news” in the Internet gambling industry in recent years has been the rise in the use of cryptocurrencies to conduct online gambling. Although cryptocurrencies are not recognized as currency by the federal government, one of the owners of the Seals with Clubs bitcoin poker site argued that they are social gambling.
The same company that operates the online gambling site received a $25,000 fine and was sentenced to two years of probation. In addition, the owner agreed to launch a $3 million public-service campaign. The same company accepted ads from a website called Tropical Paradise, which also facilitated gambling.
There are several other related statutes, including the Travel Act and the Johnson Act. The latter, also known as the Gambling Devices Transportation Act (GDTA), also has a nifty-looking name. However, the most interesting section of this law is Section 1956. It creates several crimes, including laundering, money laundering, and laundering with intent to promote illicit activity. These crimes are designed to disguise and conceal a nefarious act. In addition, Section 1956 is designed to evade taxes and other federal laws.
While it is not exactly a statutory law, Section 1956 has raised constitutional objections to the enforcement of federal gambling laws. While the Commerce Clause may be satisfied by the commercial nature of the gambling business, there are still questions about the statutory power of the Federal government to enact laws that would interfere with the freedom of speech.