When online gambling first appeared in the 1990s, it seemed to be a way for gamblers to avoid the restrictions that existed for traditional land-based gambling. Those that wanted to gamble were able to find a variety of sites that were legal. However, there was concern that the Internet could be used to bring illegal gambling into the jurisdictions of state officials. This fear prompted the United States Department of Justice to explore online gambling regulations. The result was the Online Gambling Regulation Act (OGRA), which was signed into law in 2001.
While OGRA has helped regulate the Internet gambling industry in the United States, it was not clear that the laws would prevent gambling on the Web from taking place in the US. In 2009, live sgp officials from New York and Illinois asked the Department of Justice for its opinion on digital sale of lottery tickets. They found that the DOJ would not take the position that the federal law prohibiting the sale of lottery tickets via the Internet applied to online gambling.
There were also concerns that states could not effectively enforce their laws, especially because many of the state laws governing online gambling were based on the Commerce Clause. The Commerce Clause is a doctrine that posits that the federal government has the authority to legislate on matters relating to the commerce of the United States, which can include laws related to gambling. Several states have argued that the commercial nature of a gambling business should be sufficient to satisfy the Commerce Clause.
The federal Travel Act, which was designed to stop unlawful activity by players who use facilities located in more than one state, may be relevant in cases of Internet gambling. Additionally, the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act governs gambling activity on Indian reservations. Although there has been little success in attacking the First Amendment on the basis of the Commerce Clause, some state lawmakers have expressed concern that the internet could be used to transport illegal gambling into their jurisdictions.
In response to the controversy surrounding the Travel Act, the Department of Justice issued a clarification in June that left the door open for further development of poker platforms. A number of House Representatives introduced a number of bills aimed at softening the federal law. The Fifth Circuit disagreed with the DOJ and ruled that the law did not preempt states from regulating Internet gambling.
In addition to the Travel Act, the UIGEA was drafted in order to regulate commercial activity. It includes factors to help weed out cases that do not involve a high level of gambling. These factors include a requirement that the operators of the site have the financial ability to pay for the transactions. The UIGEA can also make it a criminal offense to provide the financial instruments used by an online betting operation to an individual who is engaged in an illegal act.
Some of the laws that are relevant to gambling are also the Lawful Internet Gaming Act, which permits Internet wagering on fantasy sports. This is a relatively new form of gambling and has gained popularity in Michigan. Besides allowing Michigan residents to wager on Internet-based fantasy sports, the state has also become a significant player in the mobile sports betting market. Similarly, the Liechtenstein International Lottery was the first gambling venue to offer online wagering to the general public.