Main Technologies and Forms of The Internet Gambling in The US
The debate over the applicability of the phrase “wire communications” to the Internet involves both the original intent of the law as well as the future of the technology. Some argue that because there was no technology known as the Internet at the time of the statute’s formulation, the intent of the law applies only to telephone communications. 33 However, because Congress did not write the statute as “telephone communications,” it is argued that its intent was to include any and all wire communication devices. 34 This debate, however, may be moot: Future technological advances may make it possible for individuals to bypass cables and telephone wires when establishing connections to the Internet. For example, cellular access to the Internet is presently available, and several companies are developing hand-held Internet devices that access satellite technology. 35 Perhaps through existing cellular technology and direct satellite feeds, information on the Internet will pass through most computers without any hard wire connection at all to communication devices.
A second point of contention arises over the forms of gambling to which 18 U. S. C. § 1084 applies. It is clear through the specification of “sporting event” that the statute applies to sports wagering. Because it lacks a clear definition of “contest,” however, the statute’s applicability to other forms of gambling is vague. Do contests include bingo, lotteries, or casino-style games?
Definitions are further clouded regarding the unique jurisdictional concerns of the Internet. The mention of “transmission” of bets or wagers or “information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers,” raises concerns over the definition of those words when applied to the Internet. 36 Is posting a Web site that provides citizens an opportunity to engage in Internet gambling a “transmission” of illegal services and information? 37 The question of who is facilitating the transmission of bets or wagers raises concerns. Where are bets and wagers taking place on the Internet? Are they taking place at the site where the person downloads a Web page onto a personal computer? Is the bet taking place at the point of financial transactions— that is, where the bank account, credit card, or smart card companies are located? Or is the bet or wager occurring at the ISP that hosts the Internet gambling site? 38
Given the traditional responsibility of the states regarding gambling, many have been in the forefront of efforts to regulate or prohibit Internet gambling and online real money casino as a part of it. Several states, including Louisiana, Texas, Illinois, and Nevada, have introduced and/ or passed legislation specifically prohibiting Internet gambling.
33 Janower, supra note 16, at 10. 34 Ibid. 35 Microsoft Corp. and Accord Technologies are developing hand-held devices to access the Internet. 36 Wire Communications Act of 1961, 18 U. S. C. § 1084 a (1998). 37 Cybersell, Inc. an Arizona corp. v. Cybersell, Inc., a Florida corp., 130 F. 3d 414 (U. S. C. C. App. 1997). In Cybersell v. Cybersell, the court concluded “the essentially passive nature of Cybersell FL’s activity in posting a home page on the World Wide Web that allegedly used the service mark of Cybersell, AZ does not qualify as purposeful activity invoking the benefits and protections of Arizona. As it engaged in no commercial activity and had no other contacts via the Internet or otherwise in Arizona, Cybersell, FL lacks sufficient minimum contacts with Arizona for personal jurisdiction to be asserted over it there. Accordingly, its motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction was properly granted.” 38 Generally, people connect to the Internet from their personal computer through an Internet service provider (ISP). Personal or business accounts to access the Web are often bundled with the ISP service to provide e-mail. In addition to providing access from personal computers to the Internet, ISP’s perform a multitude of functions. Individuals, businesses, universities, government agencies, and organizations contract with ISP’s to “host” Web sites. In hosting Web sites, ISP’s are responsible for launching the data on a particular page to the Internet and often for updating and maintaining the information presented. Web sites are usually hosted by ISP’s that are geographically located in close proximity to their contractors. Additionally, the term ISP is used to refer to the routing computers responsible for sending message packets throughout the network of computers driving the Internet. 39 1997 La. Act 1467. S. 4, 91st Leg. 1st Reg. Sess. (Ill. 1999) S. 318, Reg. Sess. (Nev. 1997). S. 1222, 76th Leg. Reg. Sess. (Texas, 1999).