Several federal criminal statutes are implicated by illegal Internet gambling. These statutes include the Travel Act, Wire Act, and the Illegal Gambling Business Act. The United States Department of Justice also has an Anti-Money Laundering office that helps fight illegal gambling.
The Travel Act, for example, prohibits facilitating or promoting unlawful gambling. The Wire Act prohibits gambling on contests or sporting events, and the Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA) prohibits illegal Internet gambling. The IGBA also prohibits a number of financial transactions.
The Travel Act, or the statute in question, has been the focus of many a legal challenge. The statute itself has been the subject of several debates, with the simplest one involving the ability to travel to foreign countries, or at least to a state other than the one in which one is domiciled.
The Travel Act is a powerful tool in the fight against illegal gambling, but it does not provide all the answers. In some cases, the best answer is to focus on state laws. For example, in California, gambling on the internet is considered illegal. Similarly, in New York, gambling is considered illegal if one enters a bet.
The IGBA has been the subject of some legal challenges on First Amendment and Commerce Clause grounds. The commercial nature of gambling does not necessarily satisfy the Commerce Clause, but it does satisfy the obvious.
The Travel Act does not require that the law be a national law. Instead, the statute may be enforced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which has jurisdiction over common carriers. The FCC has the authority to shut down facilities, stop furnishing them, or discontinue the lease of them.