It focuses on the Wire Wager Act, which has become the federal government's main weapon against Internet gambling.
The Interstate Wagering Amendment was not the first time Congress elected to supplement individual states' approaches to gambling by outlawing interstate transmissions of "information" pertaining to gambling.(55) It previously did so in the Wire Wager Act,(56) one of several anti-racketeering laws passed in the 1960s to combat organized crime.(57) It is the breadth of the Wire Wager Act that has attracted the most attention in the Internet gambling context because, notwithstanding the potential applicability of other federal laws,(58) it directly prohibits the use of a wire transmission facility to foster a gambling business.
One of its purposes was to clarify that the Wire Wager Act covers all forms of telecommunications used to transmit all types of gambling information, including, but not limited to, information about sporting events.
It was not surprising, therefore, that in the spring of 1998, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced the filing of criminal complaints against twenty-one offshore Internet-gambling operators under the Wire Wager Act. These prosecutions are the federal government's first effort to attack the proliferation of online gambling.(105)
The question then arises whether there are other sound constitutional or policy reasons for not prosecuting Internet gambling operators, either under the Wire Wager Act or related prohibitions.
criminal law is well established.(183) Some laws, for instance, apply by their specific terms to acts "committed outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States."(184) Others, including the Wire Wager Act,(185) the Travel Act,(186) and the ITWPA,(187) criminalize acts involving "interstate or foreign commerce" that permit or aid gambling,(188) which strongly implies extraterritorial application.(189) American laws also have been applied to foreign criminal activities that affect the United States.
are "media neutral" and otherwise pass constitutional muster.(228) The Justice Department struck a similar note in explaining its decision to prosecute Interact gambling under the Wire Wager Act, maintaining that [sections] 1084 applies equally to the Internet as to any "wire communication facility" that was in existence when the Act was passed.