Gambling is an activity whereby someone is tasked with wagering something of value on a random event. Gambling does not involve a lot of skill, but it does come with a variety of risks. Some states have even banned gambling altogether. In the US, however, gambling is legal. The question is whether this is an unwarranted privilege or a privilege that should be exercised with the utmost caution.
One of the most notable gambling related cases involving the law was United States v. Mick, a case that involved bartenders and managers of establishments that featured video poker machines. Among the case’s many facets, it also had a significant economic impact. It involved a $3.2 million seizure by the U.S. marshals of the company’s advertising revenues.
A lot of debate has surrounded the law’s effectiveness. This is in part because the commercial nature of the gambling industry seems to trump any constitutional questionable assertions. Still, in this context, the First Amendment’s limited protections on crime facilitating speech may encumber any objections to a particular statute.
There have been numerous attempts to scuttle federal gambling laws by claiming that they are a violation of the First Amendment. But the results have been a mixed bag. These attacks rely on the Commerce Clause or the Due Process Clause have largely failed.
On the other hand, there are some state laws that can effectively ban casinos from operating within their jurisdictions. Even when a state does allow gambling, there are varying laws on the books. If you plan on playing at a casino in another state, it’s best to check local rules before you start. And don’t forget to check your own state’s laws, too.
Interestingly, the federal government isn’t too keen on enforcing gambling regulations. However, there have been instances where the federal government has stepped in to help states enforce their own regulations. For example, the Federal Wire Act of 1961 prohibits the cross-state transfer of gambling funds. Although the Act is ineffectual, it is still useful in helping to curb the flow of illegal money into the country.
Another piece of legislation, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, has a similar effect. The UIGEA, as it is often referred to, is a series of seven federal criminal statutes, which together make gambling on the Internet a crime. Moreover, the UIGEA is accompanied by congressional findings regarding the impact of its passage on interstate commerce.
So, how does the UIGEA work? It allows for some form of regulation and weeds out low-level gambling cases. Those looking to do business with a betting platform that violates the UIGEA are not allowed to accept payment from the site. Nonetheless, it is possible to find a gambling site that offers some form of legalized online betting.
Although there are no guarantees that the UIGEA will actually prevent gambling on the Internet, its presence in the law clearly frustrates the enforcement policies of individual states.