Using the internet to gamble is illegal in some jurisdictions. The federal criminal statutes implicated by illegal gambling on the internet include the Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, and the Travel Act. There are also provisions in the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act that ban illegal gambling business activities.
Some state officials have expressed concerns that the Internet may be used to transport illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. However, most states require that the minimum age for gambling be 18 years or older. In some countries, the minimum age requirement is as high as 19 years.
Despite this concern, the United States is one of only a few countries that have legalized online gambling. Revenues from online gambling topped $830 million in 1998, and reached $21 billion in 2008.
The use of the Internet to gamble has changed the way people engage in wagering. It allows for rapid feedback and large bets. It has also made betting more convenient, offering the ease of playing at home and a wider variety of betting products. It is expected that the Internet will continue to play a major role in the gambling industry.
Although there has been some resistance to the enforcement of the federal gambling laws, there have been few successful attacks on constitutional grounds. The primary arguments have focused on due process, the Commerce Clause, and the First Amendment.
The Commerce Clause and the First Amendment have not been well suited to the prosecution of illegal Internet gambling. The Commercial Activity provision in the Lopez Amendment, which regulates commercial activity, appears to address these concerns.