Gambling Operations–Part 1

This is the first in a five-part series about gambling operations in Florida.

There has been a recent increase in gambling arrests across Polk County, Florida.  This is an interesting area to discuss because the term “gambling” can mean different things to different people, such as: bingo, card games, slot machines, the lottery, and betting on sports games, etc.  It is important for a criminal defense attorney to be knowledgeable in all facets of the gambling laws, not only to know what activities are illegal, but also to know what types of activities are legitimate.

In general, Florida’s gambling laws can be found in Chapter 849, Florida Statutes. Interestingly, the word “gambling” is not defined.  The closest the legislature comes in defining the term can be found at 849.08, where the activity of “gambling” is criminalized:

Gambling—Whoever plays or engages in any game at cards, keno, roulette, faro or other game of chance, at any place, by any device whatever, for money or other thing of value, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree…

Notice how broadly this statute is written.  Whoever…plays…any…game of chance…at any place…by any device…for money or other thing of value…shall be guilty of gambling.

Perhaps because this statute was written so broadly, the legislature wrote other laws providing for some exceptions to gambling.  Later posts will cover this topic, and will relate to cardhouses, penny-ante games, and bingo.

(Disclaimer: This post does not constitute legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.)

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