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Gaming and Gambling Laws in Los Angeles

Although there are many places in the United States that permit gambling, the law is decidedly more strict in Los Angeles. State law provides stiff penalties for engaging in any gambling activities that constitute prohibited forms of play.

However, gambling itself is not strictly illegal in Los Angeles. In fact, there are quite a few games that are not prohibited. It’s important to learn more about this topic so that you can avoid participating in any illegal gambling scenarios.

Gambling in L.A.: What Is And Isn’t Illegal?

For the most part, California law does not specifically address specific certain games in order to prohibit them. While several games are specifically outlawed, gambling laws in Los Angeles prohibit certain styles and rules that are commonly found in games of chance.

For example, Section 330 of the California Penal Code forbids any game played with dice, cards or other devices that use a banking or percentage component. This means that is it illegal to participate, play, sponsor or host any game that includes:

  • A system that uses a bank or house to pay the game winners with the money from game losers
  • A system that collects a percentage of the earnings or total bets to keep for the house or sponsor

Under this law, a game of chance, cards or dice that does not include these elements may be considered legal and will not incur criminal penalties. It should be noted that being involved in any way with prohibited games is grounds for criminal charges.

Examples of Illegal Gaming

Marco and his friends gather every Friday night to play Texas Hold ‘Em at his house. For these games, Marco acts as the “bank”. He either deals or plays in every hand and pays out the winners by using the money that has been put into the pot by the other participants. Additionally, Marco collects 10% of the total winnings at the end of the night as a “fee” for hosting the game.

Marco has violated Section 330 of the Penal Code. This is because he acted as a bank or house and also collected a percentage of the total money put into the pot.

Strictly Prohibited Games

In addition to games that include the mechanics listed above, a handful of games are prohibited under any circumstance by California law. These games include:

  • Monte
  • Faro
  • Lansquenet
  • Roulette
  • Rouge et Noire
  • Rondo
  • Tan
  • Fan-Tan
  • Seven-and-a-half
  • Twenty-One
  • Hokey-Pokey

Participating in any of these games in any setting may be grounds for legal prosecution.

Legal Penalties and Defenses

A conviction for illegal gaming can incur some stiff penalties. These include:

  • A fine of no less than $100 and no more than $1,000
  • Up to six months in county jail
  • Probation
  • Possible compulsory participation in a gambling awareness program

Fighting illegal gaming charges in court may be difficult but it is necessary to protect your rights. Our law firm can employ several strategies to fight these charges, including:

  • Arguing that you did not intend to violate the gaming law
  • Arguing that you were not present at the game in question
  • Showing evidence that you had no knowledge of the nature of the game

If these arguments prove to be successful, you may avoid a conviction and keep your clear criminal record intact.

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