Currently, there is an ongoing debate about the legality of Internet gambling. Many experts agree that it has become a huge industry. But, as the United States government is still trying to understand the implications of online gambling, it has been examining the issue from a constitutional point of view.
The legality of Internet gambling is primarily governed by state law. However, federal law has been used to strengthen state law in certain cases.
The Commerce Clause has been raised in several arguments against the illegality of Internet gambling. However, due process arguments have enjoyed little success. And, as the law is primarily enforced by state officials, interstate or foreign elements can frustrate state enforcement policies.
A CRS Report RS21984 is available in abridged form. It contains citations to state gambling laws and discusses the potential impact on interstate commerce. The report is available online. It also includes text of the cited statutes.
Another case is United States v. Nicolaou. In this case, the government charged Internet poker operators with violations of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The case involved gross revenues of $2,000. In addition, it involved five persons on any one day. The government also charged the operators with money laundering. The government’s argument was that the owners of the illegal gambling business were required to operate the business continuously for thirty days or more.
The case was heard in the 4th Circuit. During the thirty-day period, the operators of the Internet gambling businesses had gross revenues of over $2,000 and were operating at all times.
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