Online gambling, including sports betting, casinos, and lottery, is an increasingly popular activity. It has become a major source of revenue in the gambling industry. In 1998, online gambling revenues reached $830 million. By 2008, the market had grown to $21 billion.
Unlike the traditional land-based casino, the online version is open 24 hours, allowing players to bet on games of all types whenever they feel like it. While this is great for convenience, it can also be dangerous. Unregulated websites often pose a security risk because of the personal information that is transmitted to third-party partners. Some unregulated gambling sites even leave users’ data vulnerable to hackers and scammers.
There are a number of federal criminal statutes that prohibit illegal Internet gambling. These include the Wire Act, the Travel Act, and the Illegal Gambling Business Act.
The Illegal Gambling Business Act makes it a crime to operate a business for illegal gambling. Owners of these businesses may be fined or imprisoned for up to five years.
Among other things, the Act bans “unlawful gambling on contests or athletic events.” Additionally, it prohibits “illegal Internet gambling” and “the receiving of wagers or bets in violation of Federal law.”
Despite these laws, illegal Internet gambling continues to increase. A recent report from the American Banker found that there were more than 200 websites in 1997 containing gambling content, and more than eight million people participated in online gambling in 2001.
The United States government is currently engaged in a criminal case against Internet poker operators. According to the complaint, the operators are guilty of violating 18 U.S.C. 1955, which makes it a crime to conduct a gambling operation that is a financial transaction provider.