Internet gambling is an online form of entertainment. This type of gambling involves wagering on a variety of games, including sports betting, casinos, and virtual poker. It can be played from home or on mobile devices. In fact, in the United States, the term “Internet casino” is synonymous with “interactive remote gambling.”
Online gambling is growing in popularity. In fact, in 2007 approximately 6 percent of the British population used the Internet for betting. That number is expected to grow as more jurisdictions legalize online gambling. However, while the benefits of Internet gambling are clear, the risks are also evident. The risks include financial ruin and addiction.
Unlike land-based gambling, the availability of high-speed Internet access has made gambling easier and faster. The convenience of a virtual environment also increases the prevalence of disordered gambling. Since gambling is largely automated, the likelihood of a gambler winning is higher than it is in a physical casino. Furthermore, many gamblers report that it is easier to access their money on the Internet.
Laws regulating internet gambling differ from state to state. A federal law, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), prohibits banks from participating in financial transactions involving unlawful Internet bets. Similarly, federal law can reinforce state law in certain cases. State officials have voiced concern that the Internet could be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. These concerns have led to legislative actions and constitutional objections.
Under the UIGEA, there are two distinct crimes that are prohibited: receiving bets on the Internet, and using the Internet to transmit bets. The UIGEA can be difficult to enforce. For example, many banks have reported that they were unable to process gambling transactions. Additionally, some banks may refuse to process transactions on the Internet in certain countries. Despite these challenges, the growth of internet gambling has been steady.
Another Congressional measure, the Lopez Amendment, provides a framework for weeding out low-level Internet gambling cases. Specifically, the Lopez Amendment contains elements for weeding out “commercial activity” and “failure to pay taxes.” While the Lopez Amendment is not perfect, it appears to satisfy many of the Commerce Clause concerns. Other concerns include the due process protections of the Commerce Clause and the free speech guarantees of the First Amendment.
A comprehensive literature review was conducted to determine the major trends and research developments in the area. Specifically, the study aimed to identify significant trends and gaps in the knowledge base. With this research in hand, the current paper is intended to provide an overview of the existing research and to highlight interesting findings relevant to adult internet gambling.
While the UIGEA has served as the foundation for criminal investigations and prosecutions of unlawful Internet gambling, the question of whether it is a sufficient basis to compel enforcement has been controversial. Federal criminal statutes have also been implicated in these cases. Although a few have found success, the overall impact of federal criminal statutes on the issue has been limited.