Section 1955 of the United States Code (“Section 1955”), the federal law detailing prohibition on illegal gambling businesses, renders a defendant susceptible to prosecution if they are found to have violated the respective state’s gambling law and have a certain amount of people involved for a certain length of time. Today, the Sixth Circuit has identified Section 1955 as a general intent statute where it need not be shown that a defendant acted willfully in terms of intentionally violating state law. However, Ohio’s state gambling law has been interpreted as a specific intent statute that requires a purposeful act and, in turn, specific intent to violate the law. Thus, when Section 1955 intertwines with Ohio law, there is a discrepancy in interpretation between specific and general intent. At the federal level, this discrepancy has the ability to prevent a defendant from ever employing a mistake of law defense based on good faith and reasonable reliance. This Note contends that Section 1955, a statute giving deference to state law, should be interpreted as a specific intent statute when the allegedly illegal gambling business and defendants are subject to Ohio’s gambling law. Furthermore, as a specific intent statute, a defendant in Ohio should be able to present a defense based on lack of intent to violate the statute.
Rolling the Dice on the Legality of Gambling Devices: Why "Purpose" has a Purpose,
71 Clev. St. L. Rev.
available at https://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol71/iss1/11