Gambling is not illegal in the United States, but it is up to each state to regulate it. The federal government has laws that apply to online gambling, such as the Wire Act. This act has been used to prosecute operators of offshore online sports books. The Communications Act has been used less often and does not apply to mere gamblers.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) prohibits certain transactions related to online gambling, but not online gambling itself. It also creates a limited federal civil cause of action and authorizes state attorneys general to sue in federal court for injunctive relief. The UIGEA does not offer any prospect of relief other than federal court orders and does not expressly authorize a private cause of action. It also limits the instances in which attorneys general may bring proceedings against ISPs and financial institutions.
Those engaged in the receipt of proceeds from illegal internet gambling may be guilty of any of the state or federal felony gambling offences that are RICO predicate offences. The term 'unlawful internet gambling' means knowingly placing, receiving, or transmitting a wager by any means involving the use, at least in part, of the Internet when such wager is unlawful under any applicable Federal or State law in the State or tribal lands in which the wager is initiated, received, or placed. Intrastate transactions are excluded from this definition, as are transactions related to activities excluded from the definition of unlawful internet gambling. No person engaged in the business of gambling may knowingly agree in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful internet gambling. Regulations must be put in place to ensure that transactions related to activities excluded from the definition of unlawful internet gambling are not blocked or otherwise prevented or prohibited.