Gambling, though widespread in the United States, is subject to legislation at both the state and federal level that bans it from certain areas, limits the means and types of gambling, and otherwise regulates the activity.
Gambling online initially appeared to represent an end-run around government control and prohibition. But as Internet use and related gambling exploded in the 1990’s, the Department of Justice and Congress explored the applicability of current law and the desirability of new regulation for online gambling.
In exploring whether an offshore Internet gambling business taking bets from Americans violated federal law, attention was focused on the Wire Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1084 (2000). The operator of a wagering business is at risk of being fined and imprisoned under the Wire Act if the operator knowingly uses a “wire communication facility” to transmit information related to wagering on “any sporting event or contest.” 18 U.S.C. § 1084(a). The Wire Act’s definition of “wire communication facility” appears to embrace the nation’s entire telecommunications infrastructure, and therefore probably applies to online gambling. See § 1081.
The Department of Justice maintains that, under the Wire Act, all Internet gambling by bettors in the United States is illegal.
Criminal Charges Associated With Illegal Internet Gambling
Several charges could be brought against you as part of an online gambling case:
- Use of wire communications to transmit bets
- Money laundering
- Importing lottery tickets
- Owning or otherwise being involved in an illegal gambling business
- Tax fraud
Even if you were not actually operating an online gambling website, being a customer of such a site could result in a criminal charge — something many people do not know. Because the penalties can be harsh, having a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney is critical.
If you believe that you are under investigation, have been subpoenaed before a grand jury or arrested and charged with a crime, contact us for a confidential consultation by phone at (215) 563-9800 or email at info@NeffSedacca.com.