Unlawful Internet gambling is a federal crime that entails using at least some part of the Internet to make or receive wagers. This includes virtual poker, casinos and sports betting.
The legality of online gambling is mostly a matter of state law. However, there are several federal criminal statutes that are implicated in the practice. These include the Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act and the Travel Act.
The federal government has tried to enforce these laws. In 2002, the GAO published a report on Internet Gambling: Overview of Issues. Although the study did not cover the legality of gambling on the internet, it did discuss the technical aspects of the law.
The best way to determine if a website offers legal online gambling is to check with a local attorney. State officials have expressed concerns that the internet could be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdiction.
One of the most notable features of the federal laws is that they reinforce or even supersede state laws. For example, the Travel Act applies to online gambling and sports betting. Some states have a heightened interest in regulating these activities because of their interstate nature.
Another tidbit is the emergence of sports betting. Many people bet on the outcome of a game or sporting event. Typically, a team with a stronger record has fewer odds of winning.
In the context of Internet gambling, the most important feature is the security of the site. Playing on a website that is not secure puts your credit card and personal information at risk.