Several federal criminal statutes apply to online gambling. These include the Wire Act, the Travel Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. All of these laws prohibit illegal gambling on the internet. They also include the Illegal Gambling Business Act, which makes it illegal for a gambling business to accept payments from customers for illegal internet bets. The owner of an illegal gambling business can be fined and imprisoned.
The Travel Act is designed to prevent illegal gambling in interstate commerce. The act’s jurisdiction can be established by reference to the telecommunications component of the Internet, shipments in interstate commerce, or debts resulting from gambling. It also prohibits the promotion and facilitation of unlawful gambling. The Federal Communications Commission has the authority to shut down facilities or discontinue leasing or furnishing them.
The Travel Act also prohibits the spending of illegal gambling proceeds. Section 1957 prohibits spending more than $10,000 in illegal gambling proceeds at any one time. This provision has raised constitutional questions about the authority of the federal government to prosecute illegal internet gambling. The commercial nature of the gambling business seems to satisfy these questions, but questions still remain about the constitutionality of enforcing these laws.
Another federal law that may be applicable to online gambling is the Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organizations Act, also known as RICO. The RICO provisions prohibit illegal gambling business activities. The owner of an illegal gambling business can face up to five years in prison.