Illegal Gaming or Gambling in California
California Penal Code Section 330
It is illegal to be a dealer in a game that is not sanctioned for gambling. The illegality comes in when someone is collecting money as people gamble similar to how Vegas does it and the various other casinos even throughout Los Angeles County.
Obviously, the more people involved, the more money involved, the more likely the authorities will find out about it and actually do something about it. They will prosecute the person pursuant to Penal Code Section 330 and that person can be looking at up to six months in the County jail.
When it comes to illegal gambling and the prosecutors and police enforcing illegal gambling in Los Angeles County by way of Penal Code Section 330, they’re not really looking to prosecute people who are just playing recreationally with their friends.
For example, a Tuesday night poker game or other game where people are getting together – even though money is being exchanged, this is not the police’s target when it comes to illegal gambling.
They’re looking at stopping those games where the public is able to come in and play, somebody’s collecting either a percentage of the money, or a dealer is getting some of the money or the house is sanctioning the game, because usually what ends up happening in those scenarios is in addition to illegal gambling, other types of crimes are being committed like prostitution and illegal use of drugs, so that’s where I’m seeing – over the course of the last twenty-five years of dealing with these gambling and gaming cases – the police actually coming in.
Somebody gets busted with drugs for example. In order to help themselves get themselves off, they then tell the police that there’s an illegal gaming or gambling area in order to get the police to not prosecute them for their illegal activity.
So, ultimately, these illegal gambling locations get busted up, people get arrested, and obviously, you need an attorney. And they’re not just going to arrest the house or the people who are getting the percentage of the money, they’re going to arrest everybody in there who is involved in the gambling.
Defenses to Illegal Gambling Pursuant to Penal Code Section 330
One defense that can be asserted when it comes to illegal gambling is that you were not actually involved in the illegal gambling.
I’ve had a number of clients who were arrested who were just present at a house for example where this illegal gambling was going on and the authorities scooped them up in a broad net and charged them with illegal gambling, but the reality is they didn’t have any evidence that they were violating Penal Code Section 330 and all they had was evidence that they were present at a location where illegal gaming or gambling was going on.
Mere presence at a crime is not in and of itself enough to prosecute somebody for illegal gambling. Other defenses would include that it’s just a game for fun with your friends. Nobody’s getting a percentage of the money.
Yes, money is being taken – people are winning and losing money – but there’s no house so to speak where a dealer or somebody else is getting a portion of all the gambling that’s going on. That’s really what’s being targeted when it comes to illegal gambling in California, and specifically in Los Angeles.
So, most of the time the authorities aren’t even going to get involved if it’s just small stakes and it’s a meeting among friends. The question becomes how they even found out about it to get involved.
Where the problems come in once again is when people are advertising, so to speak, in a gaming where there’s other criminal activity going on such as prostitution, illegal drug us, illegal drug sale- once you start getting into that ballpark where people are profiting and doing other illegal not moral activities, that’s typically when the police are going to find out in Los Angeles and they’re going to swoop in and they’re going to come and arrest everybody.
Even if they let some people go – just the fact that they swooped in, broke the game up and arrested a bunch of people – lets everybody know in that area we’re not going to stand for this type of activity here and if you do it you’re going to be prosecuted and arrested.
So, if you’ve been swept up in one of these nets, obviously you want to try to keep your record clean if it’s possible. You need to get a criminal defense attorney, come in, sit down, we’ll go over everything in the privacy of my office and then we’ll come up with a game plan on how we can resolve your matter and protect your rights, your freedom and your reputation.
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