Posts Tagged ‘gambling’


Gambling Operations (Part 4): Cardrooms

Friday, August 19th, 2011

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.)

Gambling Operations: Penny-Ante Games–Part 3

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

This is Part 3 in a five-part series devoted to gambling laws in Florida.

As we discussed in Part 2 (dealing with Bingo), because the gambling statute was written so broadly, the legislature, over the years, has created certain exceptions to gambling.  Bingo was one such exception.  Another exception is certain penny-ante games.

Penny-Ante Games

The penny-ante game exception can be found at 849.085.  The penny-ante exception was created in 1989 and was last revised in 2001.  Don’t know what a penny-ante game is?  Here’s how the law defines it:

“Penny-ante game” means a game or series of games of poker, pinochle, bridge, rummy, canasta, hearts, dominoes, or mah-jongg in which the winnings of any player in a certain round, hand, or game do not exceed $10 in value.

Restrictions on Penny-Ante Games

The law places five restrictions on penny-ante games.  It is not a crime to participate in a penny-ante game if such game is conducted strictly in accordance with this law.

1.  The game must be conducted in a dwelling.

2.  A person may not receive any consideration or commission for allowing a penny-ante game to occur in his or her dwelling.

3.  A person may not directly or indirectly charge admission or any other fee for participation in the game.

4.  A person may not solicit participants by means of advertising in any form, advertise the time or place of any penny-ante game, or advertise the fact that he or she will be a participant in any penny-ante game.

5. A penny-ante game may not be conducted in which any participant is under 18 years of age.

Interestingly, a debt created or owed as a consequence of any penny-ante game is not legally enforceable.  Also of interest, the penny-ante statute does not mention criminal punishment (i.e., whether the crime is a felony or misdemeanor).

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

Gambling Operations: BINGO–Part 2

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

This is Part 2 in a five-part series dedicated to gambling operations in Florida.

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the broad definition and scope of the gambling statute in Florida.  But there is good news, BINGO is allowed…under certain conditions, that is.

BINGO Statute

The Bingo statute can be found at 849.0931.  The Bingo exception was written into law in 1992 and was last modified in 2007.

Interesting Parts of the BINGO Law

Bingo is not the most complicated game in the world.  There’s the number cards, the bingo balls, and a person calling out B-14.  Since the game is fairly simple, you’d think the statute would be pretty simple too, right?  W-R-O-N-G!  The Bingo statute goes into painstaking detail over the rules.  It is important to follow these rules, as failure to do so may result in an illegal Bingo game.  Here’s a few highlights from the statute that show the level of detail in the Bingo law.

1.  The statute actually defines terms such as: bingo game, bingo card, deal, flare, instant bingo, objects, rack, receptacle, and session.

2.  Did you know that no one under the age of 18 is allowed to play any bingo game or instant bingo game? (849.0931 (10)(a))

3.  Except for instant bingo, the number of days per week during which organizations authorized under this law may conduct Bingo is two. (849.0931 (6)).

4.  Except for instant bingo prizes, which are limited to the amounts displayed on the ticket or on the game flare, there shall be no more than three jackpots on any one day of play.  All other game prizes shall not exceed $50. (849.0931 (7)).

5.  Upon determining a winner, the caller shall ask,  “Are there any other winners?”  If no one replies, the caller shall declare the game closed.  No other player is entitled to share the prize unless she or he has declared a bingo prior to this announcement. (849.0931 (12)(h)).

6.  A violation of the bingo law is a first degree misdemeanor.  For a second offense, the crime becomes a third degree felony.

So there you have it, all you ever wanted to know about Bingo!  Now go out and play…and WIN!

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

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Gambling Operations–Part 1

Monday, August 15th, 2011

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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