Extracted from: Internet Gambling in Nevada: Overview of Federal Law Affecting Assembly Bill 466,
Courtesy of Liebert Publishing, Gambling Law Review

As part of United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy’s program to combat organized crime and racketeering, Congress enacted the Travel Act in 1961 as part of the same series of legislation as the Wire Act discussed above.[99] The Travel Act, which is aimed at prohibiting interstate travel or use of an interstate facility in aid of a racketeering or an unlawful business enterprise, provides as follows:

(a) Whoever travels in interstate or foreign commerce or uses the mail or any facility in interstate or foreign commerce, with intent to –

(1) distribute the proceeds of any unlawful activity; or

(2) commit any crime of violence to further any unlawful activity; or

(3) otherwise promote, manage, establish, carry on, or facilitate the promotion, management, establishment, or carrying on, of any unlawful activity, and thereafter performs or attempts to perform –

(A) an act described in paragraph (1) or (3) shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both; or(B) an act described in paragraph (2) shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

(b) As used in this section

(i) “unlawful activity” means

(1) any business enterprise involving gambling, liquor on which the Federal excise tax has not been paid, narcotics or controlled substances (as defined in section 102(6) of the Controlled Substances Act), or prostitution offenses in violation of the laws of the State in which they are committed or the United States,

(2) extortion, bribery, or arson in violation of the laws of the State in which committed or of the United States, or

(3) any act which is indictable under subchapter II of chapter 53 of title 31, United States Code, or under section 1956 or 1957 of the titled and

(ii) the term “State” includes a State of the United States, the District of Columbia, and any commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States.

(c) Investigations of violations under this section involving liquor shall be conducted under the supervision of the Secretary of the Treasury.[100]

“Unlawful activity,” as defined in subsection (b) refers to a business enterprise involving, among other things, illegal gambling. The Sectional Analysis of the House Report on Senate Bill 1653 specifically states that the term “‘business enterprise’ requires that the activity be a continuous course of conduct.” [101]

A conviction under the Travel Act necessitates a violation of either a state or federal law. [102] However, the government need not prove that the defendant specifically inte nded to violate state or federal law. [103]

The courts have determined that the use of the mail, telephone or telegraph, newspapers, credit cards and tickertapes is sufficient to establish that a defendant “used a facility of interstate commerce” to further an unlawful activity in violation of the Travel Act. [104]  It is important to note that the Travel Act “refers to state law only to identify the defendant’s unlawful activity, the federal crime to be proved in § 1952 is use of the interstate facilities in furtherance of the unlawful activity, not the violation of state law; therefore § 1952 does not require that the state crime ever be completed.”[105]

End notes:

[99]  See Racketeering Enterprises – Travel or Transportation Act, Pub. L. No. 87-228, 75 Stat. 498, 561-562 (1961).
[100]  18 U.S.C. § 1952.
[101]  U.S. Code & Cong. News, 87th Cong. 1st Sess., 2666; see also United States v. Ruiz, 987 F.2d 243, 250-251 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 855 (1993) (government is not required to prove that the defendant personally engaged in a continuous course of conduct, but rather the government must prove that there was a continuous business enterprise and that the defendant participated in the enterprise); United States v. Vaccaro, 816 F.2d 443, 454 (9th Cir.1987), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 914 (1987) (defendant’s involvement in three jackpot cheating incidents over a three-year period was sufficient to show a continuous and illegal conduct for a Travel Act conviction).
[102]  See 18 U.S.C. § 1952(b)(i).
[103]  See United States v. Polizzi, 500 F.2d 856, 876-877 (9th Cir. 1974), cert. denied, 419 U.S. 1120 (1975) (government need only show that the defendants had a specific intent to facilitate an activity they knew to be unlawful under law – i.e., carrying on a hidden ownership interest in the Frontier Hotel in violation of NRS 463.160).
[104]  See United States v. Heacock, 31 F.3d 249, 255 (5th Cir. 1994) (interstate mailings); United States .v Villano, 529 F.2d 1046, 1050-1051 (10th Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 426 U.S. 953 (1976) (interstate use of telephones for bookmaking); United States v. Erlenbaugh, 452 F.2d 967, 970-973 (7th Cir. 1971), aff’d 409 U.S. 239 (1972) (although exempt under 18 U.S.C. § 1953, “scratch sheets” from the Illinois Sporting News newspaper that were transported by train from Chicago to Indiana and used by customers of an illegal bookmaking operation constituted use of an interstate facility under the Travel Act); United States v. Campione, 942 F.2d 429, 435-436 (7th Cir. 1991) (use of interstate telephone facilities to secure credit card authorization was use of an interstate facility to promote an unlawful activity, such as prostitution); United States v. Miller, 379 F.2d 483, 485 (7th Cir. 1967), cert. denied, 389 U.S. 930 (1967) (use of a Western Union tickertape to post baseball scores in furtherance of an unlawful gambling activity under Indiana law constituted use of an interstate facility); see also United States v. Garner, 663 F.2d 834, 839(9th Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 456 U.S. 905 (1982) (evidence showed that defendant practiced a blackjack cheating scheme in California and Nevada that was later used at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and the court held that the “government is not required to establish an interstate connection with respect to each defendant’s activity. . . only. . . that the scheme as a whole had substantial interstate connections”).
[105]  Campione, 942 F.2d at 434; see also United States v. Peskin, 527 F.2d 71, 79 n. 3 (7th Cir. 1975), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 818 (1976).

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