Various federal statutes have been invoked when it comes to prosecuting illegal Internet gambling. These statutes include the Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA), the Wire Act, and the Travel Act. In addition, state officials have expressed their concerns that the Internet could facilitate the introduction of illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. As a result, some have questioned the constitutionality of federal legislation.
The IGBA, for instance, is only one of seven federal criminal statutes implicated in the illegal Internet gambling quagmire. Other statutes include the Gambling Devices Transportation Act (GDOTA), the Wire Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions. Some of the most significant of these laws are the ones governing the transport of illegal gambling devices and the prohibition against allowing gambling devices to enter a state. In addition, the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) and its various sub-sections have been cited in numerous cases as well as in numerous press reports.
The most obvious question is, “How can a law enforcement agency best use these laws?” In addition, there are other concerns about the effectiveness of these statutes. For example, the fact that a federal agency can seize a company’s assets for failing to comply with a law can cause serious problems. Aside from these issues, the Internet is a global medium, meaning that the legality of an illegal Internet gambling transaction may not be completely independent of the location of the bettor. Furthermore, the Internet may be a tool to facilitate the inflow of money to the illegal gambling operation, thereby complicating efforts to enforce these laws.
The UIGEA’s most significant benefit is that it prevents financial institutions from knowingly taking part in Internet gambling transactions, thereby preventing the flow of money to illegal gambling operators. In addition, the law also prohibits a person from knowingly accepting any financial instrument from any person committing an Internet gambling offence. The most significant problem, however, is that the UIGEA only applies to financial institutions and not to individual consumers, meaning that many consumers who commit the crime may not be able to avoid punishment. This makes it all the more important for state officials to enact more stringent policies to curb the flow of cash to illegal Internet gambling operations.
Another laudable law is the Travel Act, which prohibits illegal gambling on interstate commerce. In fact, it may be the first time that a federal statute has been found to be effective in preventing Internet gambling from entering a state. The statute also allows the Federal Communications Commission to revoke the license of any common carrier that fails to take reasonable steps to prevent its facilities from being used to facilitate illegal gambling. In addition, the FCC may be able to stop the leasing of facilities to illegal Internet gambling operators. In addition, a number of states have passed or are considering legislation to prohibit gambling in their states.
While not necessarily a slam dunk, the UIGEA’s most significant benefit does show that federal law can complement state law and that the state of New York has no constitutional objection to its enforcement.