Using the Internet for illegal gambling is a violation of several federal criminal statutes. The Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions, the Travel Act, and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) all prohibit illegal gambling.
The Wire Act prohibits gambling on contests and sporting events. The UIGEA prohibits the use of financial instruments by illegal Internet bettors. The Travel Act prohibits facilitating illegal gambling on interstate commerce, promoting illegal gambling, and accepting money from illegal Internet bettors.
The United States Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have filed criminal charges against Internet poker operators in the United States. In addition to charges under the UIGEA, the defendants have been charged under 18 U.S.C. 1955, a provision of the federal criminal code that prohibits the illegal use of funds for gambling.
The federal government is also trying to enforce the UIGEA through civil suits, including against companies that operate gambling platforms. PayPal was warned by federal prosecutors that it could face prosecution. In addition, the Federal Communications Commission has jurisdiction over common carriers. The Commission can prohibit a company from providing or leasing facilities, if they are used for unlawful activities. In addition, it may also stop the furnishing of facilities.
The United States v. Nicolaou case involved five people at all times over a thirty day period. The gross revenues involved in the case were two thousand dollars. It also included waitresses, bartenders, and managers of establishments that had video poker machines.