There are many legal uncertainties regarding Internet gambling in the United States. The cases demonstrated in this chapter illustrate the fact that it is necessary to stay informed on legal developments and proceed cautiously in offering Internet gambling to American players. Finally, although this chapter provides some insight into the main legal issues vis-à-vis Internet gambling, it certainly is neither intended as a definitive resource on the subject nor a substitute for expert legal advice. Because of the ambiguity surrounding many of the legal issues involved with Internet gambling, a question of law should always be referred to a legal expert.
Before proceeding to the discussion of Internet case law, it is noteworthy to point out the general distinctions between criminal and civil cases related to Internet gambling. Criminal cases related to Internet gambling generally allege a violation of the Wire Act, 18 U.S.C. §1084. Regarding Internet gambling, it is now generally accepted that section 1084 of the Wire Act applies to sports book activities and not traditional casino-style games of chance or skill. Civil Internet gambling cases generally involve plaintiffs who lost money to Internet casinos while using a credit card to finance their wagers. These civil cases more often than not assert a cause of action based on a violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute, 18 U.S.C. §1962. As a basis for these violations, the plaintiffs assert section 1084 of the Wire Act.