If you’re looking to gamble online, you’ve got your options. Online gambling sites offer a variety of different forms of gambling, from sports betting to casinos to poker. In general, they have one of two main types of games: “instant” or “real.”
Instant games can be played through a web browser. Likewise, real time gambling can be played via a software program that runs on a laptop or mobile device. The latter is often the choice for people who don’t have the time or inclination to set up a PC or a wireless network.
The most sophisticated form of online gambling is a virtual casino. This is typically comprised of a graphical representation of a real casino game. In this case, the graphics include the rules for the game, as well as avatars representing real players. There are a number of different methods of placing wagers, with the most popular being debit cards. Typically, a player will have to create an account and provide credit card details before being allowed to play.
However, the simplest form of online gambling is sports betting. This type of gambling is prohibited by both the federal Illegal Gambling Business Act and the Wire Act. Specifically, the Wire Act bans the use of interstate facilities to engage in unlawful gambling on sporting events. Moreover, the UIGEA prohibits the use of financial instruments by individuals or businesses that are engaging in illegal Internet bets.
On the legal front, there are seven federal criminal statutes that are implicated in the illegal gambling ring. These statutes include the Illegal Gambling Business Act, the Wire Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions. It’s important to remember that although the government can prosecute you for your actions, your state’s laws will still apply. A good tip for New Yorkers is to take note of state-specific gambling laws and keep a close eye on the laws of your jurisdiction to make sure you’re not breaking any of them.
Several state officials have expressed concern that the Internet could be used to facilitate illegal gambling activities, and thus, threaten the safety and security of their citizens. In 2002, the General Accounting Office published Internet Gambling: An Overview of Issues. While this book does not cover the topic of online gambling in any detail, the gist of the report is that while there are no known instances of people having been arrested for internet gambling, state lawmakers have been voicing concerns that the Internet may become the conduit for unregulated, illegal online gambling.
As a result, the UIGEA has been enacted to regulate commercial activity in the Internet gaming industry, and weed out the less than desirable cases. Although the UIGEA is not a panacea, it does come with Congressional findings on the effect that the legislation has on interstate commerce. Thus, while the law itself is not particularly demanding, the perception of need does not always require the strongest of arguments.