Gambling Operations (Part 4): Cardrooms

In Florida, a distinction has been made between pari-mutuel style games and casino gaming.

(This is Part 4 in a five-part series discussing gambling operations in Florida, from a criminal defense perspective.)

As with Bingo and certain penny-ante games, cardrooms are legal if certain conditions are satisfied.  Generally speaking, it is not a crime for a person to participate in an authorized game at a licensed cardroom or to operate a cardroom if such game and cardroom operation are conducted strictly in accordance with the provisions of the cardroom statute.

The Cardroom Statute

The cardroom statute is can be found at 849.086.  It became a law in 1996 and was last revised in 2010.  The statute is somewhat lengthy and covers the following topics (not an exhaustive list):

  • Conditions for operating a cardroom
  • Method of wagers
  • Prohibited activities

A “cardroom” is defined as a facility where authorized games are played for money or anything of value and to which the public is invited to participate in such games and charged a fee for participation by the operator of such facility.  Authorized games and cardrooms do not constitute casino gaming operations. In fact, the statute states that authorized cardroom games are considered to be pari-mutuel style games and not casino gaming because the participants play against each other instead of against the house.

Did You Know?

  • No electronic or mechanical devices, except mechanical card shufflers, may be used to conduct any authorized game in a cardroom. (849.086 (12)(c))
  • Each licensee operating a cardroom shall keep and maintain permanent daily records of its cardroom operation and shall maintain such records for a period of not less than 3 years. (849.086 (11)(a))
  • Cardrooms may be open daily throughout the year.  The cardroom may be open a cumulative amount of 18 hours per day on Monday through Friday and 24 hours per day on Saturday and Sunday and some holidays. (849.086 (7)(b))
  • Any person who operates a cardroom without a valid license commits a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in Florida state prison. (849.086 (15)(a))

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

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