Whether you have a lot of money, or you just want to play the occasional game of blackjack, there are several benefits to gambling online. Not only can you bet from the comfort of your own home, but you can also play from a mobile phone. However, you must be careful because even though you can avoid having to go to a physical casino, you can still be deceived.
Among the laws that have been enforced against online gambling are those that prohibit the use of financial instruments for illegal Internet bets and the federal law that prohibits telecommunications services that are used for unlawful activities. In some cases, state officials have expressed concern that Internet gambling could bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. Other cases have raised questions about whether the Commerce Clause allows the government to regulate the activity. These attacks have been met with little success.
The First Amendment protects free speech, but it encumbers the right to object to crimes that facilitate speech. As a result, federal law reinforces state law in certain cases. In addition, a commercial nature of the gambling industry seems to satisfy Commerce Clause doubts. But some countries have not yet accepted online gambling as a legitimate form of entertainment. Nevertheless, it has been a growing industry.
The United States has charged a number of Internet poker operators with violations of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. These cases have centered on the use of financial instruments for unlawful Internet bets and on money laundering. Some of the prosecutions have included bartenders and managers of establishments that have video poker machines. Some of the criminal charges are based on UIGEA violations, and others are based on federal laws pertaining to money laundering and disguise.
In one recent case, the United States marshals seized $3.2 million from Discovery Communications, which had been using the ad space of the Costa Rican casino Tropical Paradise. The casino’s owners agreed to pay a $4.2 million fine, and to launch a public service campaign.
A similar case has been brought against PayPal. In a report by American Banker, it was revealed that a number of illegal Internet bets were processed through the bank. In addition, PayPal was warned by federal prosecutors that it could face prosecution.
The Federal Communications Commission has jurisdiction over common carriers, and may choose to discontinue leasing, maintaining, or furnishing facilities. This is likely to have an impact on the future development of online gambling. The Lopez Amendment is a way to address these concerns, and includes elements to weed out low level gambling cases. The federal law reinforces state law in these cases, but it does not prevent state enforcement policies from being frustrated.
The Lopez Amendment does not specifically address the Travel Act, which would be relevant in the case of an operator who is able to bring unlawful gambling operations into a state. But it does include a Congressional finding on the effect of interstate commerce on commercial activities.