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The Federal Government’s Crackdown on Illegal Internet Gambling

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The federal government’s crackdown on illegal Internet gambling has been the target of several legal challenges. First Amendment free speech protection and the Commerce Clause have been used to justify prosecutions, but these arguments have had little success. Commerce Clause doubts appear to be resolved by the commercial nature of the gambling industry, and First Amendment freedom of speech protections are limited to crimes that facilitate speech. Due process arguments, however, have suffered because the activities at issue involve financial transactions in the United States.

Although state law covers gambling, the federal government often reinforces it. In many cases, states have expressed concern that the internet may be used to bring illegal gambling activities into their jurisdictions. Moreover, federal law protects those who are playing in the United States. Regardless of whether the activity is legal or illegal, players should be aware of their legal rights.

Illegal internet gambling involves violations of federal laws, including 31 U.S.C. 5362. This statute prohibits gambling on contests, sporting events, and interstate commerce. Besides this, it prohibits certain gambling business activities that involve illegal internet gambling. For example, it’s illegal to transmit money to foreign governments by e-mail.

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