As the internet becomes people’s central medium of communication and exchange, many activities that were traditionally criminalized when they occurred in person are now being prosecuted when they occur in cyberspace. Gambling is just one of the many areas where state and federal prosecutors have stepped in to regulate and press charges against offenders.
Many aspects of internet gambling operate in a legal grey area, because the application of decades-old laws in the internet era is still being sorted out. The most current federal law on the books is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, passed in 2006. It makes it unlawful to operate an online gambling business by prohibiting website owners from knowingly accepting payments in connection with any bet or wager. The act does not criminalize the people who place bets, but instead targets those who solicit or accept the bets.
In order for an action to be penalized under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, it must first be unlawful under any federal or state law, and must also involve use of the internet. Therefore, Illinois law regarding gambling sets the standard. Most forms of gambling are criminalized under 720 ILCS 5/28-1, Gambling and Related Offenses.
The federal law does not provide a blanket prohibition on all online gambling, however. Fantasy sports are specifically excluded from the statute, and as such, businesses can legally accept bets from online bettors. The law does not weigh in on many other common forms of gambling, including interstate betting on horse racing. Common examples of internet gambling that is considered criminal activity by the federal government, and where enforcement efforts have generally focused, include:
- Taking sports bets on a domestic or foreign server;
- Taking sports bets over U.S. phone lines;
- Facilitating the transfer of funds to online casinos; and
- Accepting advertising for internet gambling in major media.
With fewer than 20 years of legal precedent, the rules governing internet gambling are constantly evolving, with new regulations, cases and statutes always emerging. In this quickly changing landscape, Goldman & Associates can help you understand the potential ramifications of being involved in gambling on the internet. We will work to help you avoid state or federal criminal charges, and if you have already been charged, we can represent you in court. We will mount an aggressive defense to any allegation that have been leveled against you, adapting our strategies to new developments in the law. Contact our Chicago-area office today for a consultation on your internet gambling or other white collar criminal case.