In recent years, gambling has grown dramatically in Native American territories. As a result, Congress has regulated the extent of gambling in these territories. There are several federal laws that have been passed to limit the types of gambling that can take place on tribal lands. However, the Commerce Clause has become a question mark. Several of these statutes have been challenged on constitutional grounds. The UIGEA is one of these laws.
Internet-based gambling extends the traditional strategy of gambling and offers another avenue for wagering. Online gaming includes sports betting, virtual poker, casino games, and lotteries. These forms of gambling can be played on desktop computers and mobile devices. Some states, including Pennsylvania, have approved online casinos and sports betting. Others, such as New Jersey and Delaware, have approved internet wagering on lotteries, horse racing, and fantasy sports.
A number of legal issues have been raised in the recent debate over Internet gambling. For example, whether states have the power to regulate online gambling or whether the government can preempt state action. Another issue that has arisen is the role of the First Amendment. Since the First Amendment guarantees free speech, it has been argued that a law that facilitates gambling is a form of speech. This is not an argument that has been widely accepted. Rather, it has been argued that such an argument can be undermined by the presence of an interstate element in the case.
For example, in a recent case, the Department of Justice charged an Internet poker operator with money laundering under 18 U.S.C. 1955. One argument against this claim is that the First Amendment only protects against crimes that facilitate speech. Nevertheless, this limited protection does not eliminate the need to defend the validity of such a law. Moreover, it also does not necessarily prevent federal authorities from charging an Internet gambling operator with illegal gambling.
In addition to this question of statutory authority, the federal government has faced legal challenges on constitutional grounds. One such challenge was in a case involving the Wire Act. Historically, this act has governed the sale of lottery tickets, but the law does not apply to the digital sale of lottery tickets. The Fifth Circuit disagreed with the Department of Justice.
On the other hand, the Commerce Clause doctrine states that the government has the power to regulate gambling. It was therefore appropriate to investigate the laws governing Internet gambling. Although a wide array of federal and state legislation exists to regulate gambling, some have been more lenient than others. While many states have taken the stance that gambling is legal, some have also proposed the legalization of sports betting.
As the federal government has considered the issue of Internet gambling, it has been unclear how the law will play out. In the meantime, state officials have expressed concern that the Internet can be used to bring in illegal gambling. Ultimately, it is up to the states to decide whether to allow the operation of internet gambling sites in their jurisdictions.