Online Gambling Laws in the United States
Online gambling, such as poker, sports betting, casinos, and virtual poker, is a big deal in the United States. Most Americans can play a game of poker or gamble nearby, but a growing number can now do so from the comfort of their homes. In some cases, such as Michigan, where three major poker sites have already launched businesses, the state has legalized the sport.
The UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) is a federal law that is used to enforce federal laws against illegal Internet gambling. While it does not actually make illegal online gambling legal, it does prohibit gambling business operators from accepting payment for illegal Internet bets.
Aside from the UIGEA, federal and state law also regulates the sale of remote gaming devices. These include computers, mobile devices, and other devices that can be used to place online gambling bets. The law requires that these be licensed, regulated, and insured. It also entitles the owners of illegal gambling businesses to be fined up to five years.
While the UIGEA has the most teeth, there are several other statutes that affect the gambling industry. Specifically, the Travel Act and the Wire Act prohibit illegal Internet gambling on contests or sporting events. The Johnson Act, a federal law enacted in 1997, also regulates the transport of gambling devices. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that communications infrastructure is protected from tampering or fraud.