While gambling may be legal on federally recognized tribal land within California, it isn’t legal to do just anywhere. In fact, there are a number of crimes related to gambling within the state and anyone accused of these charges should immediately contact a San Diego criminal lawyer.
The Gaming Law in California
This is the main law used to prosecute gambling violations in California as it covers everyone actively involved in the game, for example, a person hosting a card game, a person dealing at the card game and the people playing the game. Under the law, “banking” and “percentage” games are both illegal, meaning games where there is a “house” that earns money from the players. This means that poker games among friends are legal because one player takes the whole pot, while black jack is against the law as the house collects from the winners and pays out to the winners, earning a profit in the process.
Violations of the law can result in misdemeanor charges with sentences including probation, up to six months in jail and fines between $100 and $1000.
It is worth noting that there is an exception made specifically for bingo games played for charity and operated by a tax-exempt organization.
California’s Bookmaking Law
While the gaming law outlaws all general aspects of gambling, bookmaking focuses on those hosing the games. For example, a person taking bets, a person collecting money for bets, a person hosting an illegal game or a person who owns the property used for an illegal gambling operation and knowingly allows it to be used for such purposes.
Because bookmaking charges are reserved for those organizing the illegal activity, they are more serious than simple gaming charges. Bookmaking can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor, this charge is punishable by up to one year in jail. As a felony, it can carry a prison sentence of up to three years.
Many people try to defend themselves from bookmaking charges by arguing that they didn’t actually serve as a bookie -and in the process end up incriminating themselves. That is why anyone accused of bookmaking should contact a San Diego gambling defense lawyer as soon as possible without speaking to the police.
Gambling Fraud Charges
While gaming and bookmaking charges apply even to those hosting honest games, gambling fraud charges can be brought up against those hosting rigged games. In addition, these charges can actually brought up against fortune tellers in some cases.
Naturally, the best defense against these charges is for your San Diego white collar crime attorney to help you prove you were not operating a rigged game. While games like three card monte are notorious for being fixed, other games are not and it can be difficult for the prosecution to show that someone illegally rigged a game of chance in many cases.
When it comes to charges against fortune tellers, the prosecution must show that the defendant did not believe in his own powers of foresight and was not operating his business for entertainment purposes -in other words, that he willfully deceived his customers. Again, this can be a very high standard to prove, which is why these types of charges are rare.
If you have been accused of any type of crime related to gambling, a San Diego white collar crime attorney like Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Matthew Powell