Several states in the United States have laws prohibiting the use of the internet for gambling. These laws prohibit gambling unless a license is obtained from the state or the state has passed laws to allow it.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) has been challenged on constitutional grounds. In particular, Section 1956 creates a number of distinct crimes. The crimes include: laundering (to conceal), to evade taxes, to disguise, and to promote an illicit activity.
The first online gambling venue for the general public was the Liechtenstein International Lottery. Since then, several nations in the Caribbean and many states in the United States have allowed some forms of online gambling.
Although most European Union members allow online gambling, it is still illegal in some countries. The UK, for instance, prohibits gambling for people under the age of 18.
The UIGEA is not a complete law, however. There are still questions about whether the Commerce Clause grants the government the power to enact laws. The commercial nature of the gambling business may satisfy some of these doubts.
However, a number of states have expressed concerns that the internet may be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdiction. In response to this, several bills have been introduced in the House and Senate, including the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act (HR 2046).
The bill would modify the UIGEA and require Internet gambling facilities to be licensed by the director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. If a company or individual violates the rules, they could be fined, and up to six months in prison.