Several federal criminal statutes have been implicated by illegal Internet gambling. Some of them are the Travel Act, the Wire Act, the UIGEA, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
The Travel Act is an anti-money laundering statute that prohibits the promotion of unlawful gambling on interstate commerce. It also prohibits the use of financial instruments in connection with Internet bets. The Travel Act has been used to prosecute several high-profile criminals, including the owners of illegal gambling businesses. It has been the subject of numerous attacks on constitutional grounds, but its effects have been muted so far.
The Wire Act is another law that prohibits illegal gambling on sporting events. Its most obvious effect is to prohibit Internet gambling on contests. However, its effect on gambling in the home is not as obvious. Its most notable effect is to prevent the owners of illegal Internet gambling businesses from accepting payment. The Wire Act also serves as a deterrent for illegal gambling on contests.
Several other federal criminal statutes have been implicated by the law of the Internet. These include the Illegal Gambling Business Act and the Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act. These laws also reinforce state laws in some cases. Some state officials have expressed concerns that the Internet could be used to transport illegal gambling into their jurisdictions.
The UIGEA has been used to prosecute Internet poker operators. In addition to a fine, the owner of an illegal Internet gambling business could face up to five years in prison.