Online gambling, in its most basic form, involves placing and receiving bets. It can be a game of virtual poker or sports betting. There are even some casinos online. In order to be legal, an online casino or sportsbook must be regulated by the state in which it operates.
There are a number of federal laws, such as the Wire Act and the Travel Act, that prohibit illegal gambling. These statutes also apply to Internet casinos, since their activities are conducted on an interstate basis. The presence of an interstate element frustrates enforcement policies outlined by state law.
The Illegal Gambling Business Act, which is based on Title II of the Criminal Code, punishes individuals who operate a gambling business. Owners can face imprisonment of up to five years. If an illegal gambling business is operated on a large scale, it can be seized and sold.
There are several other federal criminal statutes that may be implicated by illegal Internet gambling. These statutes include the Wire Act, the Travel Act, the Interstate Commerce Clause, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions, and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).
In addition to these federal criminal statutes, the state of Illinois has a law governing Internet casinos. As of September 2017, the state had licensed and opened three online poker sites. PokerStars, BetMGM, and WSOP.
The state of California has also considered a bill that would regulate Internet gambling. However, state lawmakers have pushed for a more comprehensive solution, such as a bill that would make all gambling legal.