During 2005, the online gambling market generated almost $2 billion in revenues. Of this amount, 18% was from Internet poker. Another 16% came from sports book betting. And the rest came from lottery tickets and other games.
The number of casinos and betting sites on the internet has grown tremendously. In 2000, there were about six hundred to seven hundred operating in the United States. However, many countries do not allow online gambling as entertainment. These include the Caribbean, Canada, South America, and Central America.
The United States has made a series of attempts to estimate the size of the online gambling industry. For example, the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, Christiansen Capital Advisors, Bear Stearns & Co, and the U.S. Department of Justice have all attempted to quantify the market.
While many state officials have expressed concern that the Internet can be used to facilitate illegal gambling, the fact is that the legality of Internet gambling is still very unclear. There are a few different areas of interest that may be impacted by the law, including telecommunications services, remote gaming, and commercial activity. These issues have been addressed in CRS Report RS21984 and CRS Report RS22749.
The CRS Report RS21984 includes citations to state gambling laws and the Travel Act. It also discusses the Lopez Amendment, which aims to regulate the commercial activities of gambling companies. The Lopez Amendment includes elements to weed out low-level gambling cases.
There are several criminal statutes that are implicated by illegal gambling on the Internet. These include the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which prohibits the transfer of money to gambling sites, as well as the Criminal Code of the United States, which carries a heavy penalty for gambling.