Using the internet to gamble has become a highly popular pastime, and the number of sites offering gambling has increased dramatically in the past decade. Using the internet to gamble includes casino games, sports betting, and virtual poker, among other activities. There are laws in each state that regulate gambling activities in that state, and federal law reinforces these laws when it is necessary to do so.
There are four basic categories of gambling activities: casino games, sports betting, pool-selling, and bookmaking. These activities are legal in the United States, and state regulations authorize casino gaming and intrastate poker. A wide variety of games are offered in both land-based and online casinos, including slot machines, blackjack, roulette, and live dealer table games. Online casinos can provide players with better visuals and odds, and allow for more options when it comes to betting. Some sites have jackpots as high as millions of dollars, and others offer bonuses and promotions that are not available at brick-and-mortar casinos.
The federal criminal statutes that have been implicated by illegal gambling activities on the internet are Section 1956 of the Internal Revenue Code, and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). These statutes create several crimes that are not specifically mentioned in state laws, and have raised constitutional objections to prosecuting illegal Internet gambling. Specifically, Section 1956 creates the following crimes: laundering for a law enforcement sting; laundering for international purposes; laundering with intent to promote illicit activity; and laundering to evade taxes. In a recent case, the U.S. marshals seized $3.2 million from Discovery Communications, a company that provides advertising services to online gambling sites. The company agreed to pay a $4.2 million fine and launch a public-service campaign.
State officials have raised concerns about whether the internet could be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. Although online gambling is illegal in some states, several states have legalized it, and some have made it more convenient than ever before. The state of Connecticut has made online gambling legal, and will offer casino gambling in October 2021.
As with other states, Connecticut has a limited number of online gambling sites, although they are affiliated with Mohegan Sun Casino. Several online gambling sites have been approved by the state, and additional sites are expected to be approved in the coming months.
In 2012, the New York court recognized online poker as a game of skill. It also established that the act of transmitting information from New York through the internet constitutes gambling activity in New York State. In addition, it noted that the commercial nature of the gambling business may satisfy questions about the validity of the Commerce Clause.
Other states have passed laws that allow for intrastate online poker, and sports betting. In addition, states such as Montana and Oregon have allowed sports lotteries to be offered online. In January 2018, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) violated the states’ rights, and opened the door for state-based retail sports betting. Similarly, the state of Delaware has approved sports lotteries and sports betting.