During the late 1990s, online gambling became popular. By 1998, there were about 200 gambling websites. Online gambling revenues surpassed $830 million. However, state officials were concerned that the Internet could be used to promote illegal gambling. They began to look for ways to prevent illegal gambling from taking place in their states.
In April 2007, Representative Barney Frank introduced HR 2046, which would amend the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The bill would require licensing of internet gambling facilities by the director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. It would also require the Federal Communications Commission to discontinue providing, leasing, or maintaining facilities. The Federal Information Technology Rules also address online gambling.
The United States Department of Justice announced that the Wire Act applies to all forms of Internet gambling. This includes betting exchanges, casinos, and sports betting sites that use only cryptocurrency. It also prohibits financial transaction providers from receiving or accepting payments for illegal Internet bets.
Some critics of the Justice Department’s move say that it has no legal basis. However, it appears to satisfy Commerce Clause concerns. It also cites Congressional findings regarding the impact of gambling on interstate commerce.
Several cases have raised First Amendment issues. They have also raised questions about legislative power under the Commerce Clause. While attacks based on these grounds have failed to prove much success, they have sparked questions about the extent to which states can regulate gambling.
Several federal criminal cases have been filed against Internet poker companies. These cases allege money laundering and bank fraud. The defendants include the owners of three of the largest online poker companies.