The RICO Act and federal gambling charges

On Behalf of | May 20, 2024 | Federal Crimes

The RICO Act enables federal prosecutors to target illegal gambling operations that are part of a larger criminal enterprise. To convict someone under the Act, the prosecution must prove that they committed racketeering as part of the unlicensed gambling scheme. This requires proving the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The existence of a criminal enterprise
  • Impact on interstate commerce by the enterprise
  • Association or employment of the defendant with the enterprise
  • Engagement in a pattern of racketeering activity by the defendant
  • Participation in at least two acts of racketeering activity within a decade

Types of gambling activities under RICO scrutiny

Several unlicensed and unregulated gambling activities may attract RICO charges, including but not limited to:

  • Bookmaking
  • Operating a numbers games
  • Operating an unauthorized online gambling platform
  • Running private casinos
  • Organizing backroom card games
  • Involvement in animal fighting ventures
  • Offering slot machines without proper authorization

While sports betting and casino and card games are legal in certain jurisdictions, it is against federal law to do so without licensing and across state lines in some way, such as through the mail or by using cellphone or internet service.

The breadth of RICO’s reach

Whether you’re considered the mastermind behind an illegal gambling operation or merely a minor participant, the RICO Act does not discriminate in its scope. Any association with such an enterprise can lead to charges, underscoring the need for strong legal defense.

Facing RICO charges is a serious situation that demands sophisticated legal strategy. It is imperative to seek advice from a New York defense attorney with a deep understanding of the RICO Act and experience in federal gambling cases.