Those who use the Internet to gamble may not know that there are federal criminal statutes that they are operating in violation of. There are seven federal statutes that are cited in the United States Code and have been considered to be applicable to online gambling. Those who are caught are subject to penalties, which include imprisonment. These statutes include the Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions.
The Wire Act prohibits the use of wire or electronic communications to communicate information about a gambling contest. The statute is also applicable to illegal gambling on sporting events. The statute has also been cited in cases that involve illegal gambling in other countries.
The Illegal Gambling Business Act prohibits persons from conducting a gambling business if they operate in more than one state. The statute defines an illegal gambling business as one that operates substantially in only one state. The owners of illegal gambling businesses may be subject to up to five years imprisonment. The statute also requires that the owners have gross revenue of at least $2,000 per day. The owners of these businesses may also be subject to fines.
Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organization (RICO) provisions prohibit the illegal gambling business activities of racketeers. These provisions also prohibit the use of financial instruments for illegal Internet bets.
The Travel Act has been considered to be applicable to online gambling. It prohibits facilitating illegal gambling, illegal gambling on interstate commerce, and money laundering. The statute has also been cited in the case of Sporting News, which agreed to pay a fine of $4.2 million to the government.