Internet Gambling: An Abridged Overview of Federal Criminal Law

Publication Date: November 2004

Publisher: Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service


Research Area: Law and ethics; Media, telecommunications, and information



This is examination of some of the federal criminal laws implicated by Internet gambling and of a few of the constitutional questions associated with their application.

It is a federal crime to: (1) use telecommunications to conduct a gambling business; (2) conduct a gambling business in violation of state law; (3) travel interstate or overseas, or to use any other facility of interstate or foreign commerce, to facilitate the operation of an illegal gambling business; (4) systematically commit these crimes in order to acquire or operate a commercial enterprise; (5) launder the proceeds of an illegal gambling business or to plow them back into the business; (6) spend or deposit more than $10,000 of the proceeds of illegal gambling in any manner, or (7) conspire with others, or to aid and abet them, in their violation of any of these federal laws. Each of these provisions will apply to Internet gambling under some circumstances.

Although prosecution in some instances may be limited by constitutional provisions relating to the Commerce Clause, Free Speech, and Due Process, in most instances impediments are likely to be practical rather than constitutional.

This is an abridged version (without footnotes, citations or appendices) of CRS Report 97-619, Internet Gambling: Overview of Federal Criminal Law.