The growth of internet gambling has changed the way gamblers engage in gambling. It provides greater options, ease, speed, and value for money. But it also increases the risk of gambling problems. While some problem gamblers attribute their problems to online gambling, others may already have problems.
The problem of illegal internet gambling is primarily a matter of state law. However, it is also subject to the federal criminal statutes. These laws include the Interstate Commerce Act and the Travel Act. Those laws reinforce state law.
Internet problem gamblers are at a higher risk of alcohol consumption, self-harm, and drug use. In addition, they are more likely to blame gambling activities, such as poker, sports wagering, or race wagering, for their problems.
Despite the lack of definitive research, a growing body of literature suggests that internet gambling might have an effect on gambling problems. One study, for example, found that more than half of problem gamblers attribute their problems to online activities.
Another study found that Internet gamblers were more likely to be involved in illicit drug use. Some studies have also linked Internet problem gamblers to higher rates of smoking. Yet, most longitudinal studies have found too few Internet problem gamblers to be able to detect any definite connection.
As a result, many state officials have expressed concerns that the Internet could be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. This issue has also been raised in the First Amendment context. Specifically, the question of whether the Commerce Clause permits government action against Internet gambling has been raised.