Online Gambling and the Constitution

Online Gambling

Online Gambling is the act of placing or receiving bets using the internet. It may involve sports betting, casinos, virtual poker, or other games.

The United States has been involved in several gambling related cases. These cases have raised several constitutional questions regarding the legality of online gambling, and whether or not the federal government has the power to prosecute gambling related crimes.

One of the most common constitutional objections to Internet gambling is the First Amendment free speech issue. Specifically, the ability of the Federal Government to prosecute gambling related crimes is restricted by the Commerce Clause, which protects Congress from the exercise of legislative power.

Another issue is the First Amendment’s due process clause. Since the United States has jurisdiction over gambling, and the business is commercial, it is possible that the Commerce Clause could be violated if the government were to enforce the law against the activities of individual Americans who are engaged in a legal gambling activity overseas.

Aside from the question of whether or not the Commerce Clause is at issue, the other major challenge to enforcement has been the lack of a clear definition of the term “unlawful Internet gambling”. According to the United States Department of Justice, the definition of this term is “using the internet for any purpose other than to receive or place bets, or to provide information, goods, or services in exchange for a bet.”

In some states, illegal Internet gambling is also prohibited. In New York, for example, an action that consists of the act of transmitting information from New York by way of the internet constitutes unlawful Internet gambling.