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Is Gambling Completely Illegal in California or Are There Any Exceptions?

Posted by Dan Kann | Jul 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

Although California gambling regulations are lenient in comparison with most of the other states, breaking them can still invite convictions and tough penalties. Here is a brief look at the gambling legislation in California to understand why it is illegal, and scenarios in which a person can gamble legally.

How Does California Law Define Gambling?

The California Penal Code 330 PC makes it illegal for anyone to play, deal, or carry out any game prohibited by law. A participant in any of the prohibited games risks imprisonment and can face up to six months in jail. A few of the illegal games under California laws are:

  • Twenty-one
  • Roulette
  • Tan
  • Faro
  • Monte

There is an extensive list of the games that are potentially gambling games and therefore, banned under the California laws. However, the law considers any game that fits either of these two categories, illegal: 

A Banking Game

In these, the bank collects money from the losers to pay out the winners.

A Percentage Game

In these, the bank collects a share from the bets placed as a fee for hosting the games.

This implies that any game that involves betting on, or collection of bets, is illegal under the California laws. The easiest way to know if any game is legal or not is to find out if it involves an exchange of money or goods as winnings or losings amongst the players and the host.

A Few Exceptions to the Gambling Laws in California

Some of the scenarios in California when gambling is not illegal:

1. Casinos Run by Natives

Certain tribes have special authorization in California to run casinos. However, even in these casinos, there are restrictions that prohibit certain acts and games.   

2. Card Clubs

These are pay and play clubs that require the players to pay a fee for playing. These run mostly along the same lines as casinos apart from this one key distinction.    

3. Gambling for Charity

Charitable gambling, where all the collections from the game go to a charity, is legal in California. For example, a game of bingo, where the players or the house do not get any share of the proceeds.

4. Parimutuel Bets in Horse Racing

In parimutuel betting, there is no house or bank. All the bets placed by the players go into a pool, and players play against each other and not against the house. Parimutuel betting is legal in California, but only in horse racing.   

5. State Lottery

The lottery is common in many states, even the ones with otherwise strict laws against gambling.

Penalties for Illegal Gambling in California

Anyone convicted of gambling in California faces a fine of $1,000 and a prison term of up to 6 months. California gambling laws are one of the most lenient in the country.

Having said that, even though the sentence for gambling might not seem harsh by itself, but it usually carries related charges for other white-collar crimes such as money laundering, embezzlement, and so forth.

If the bets involve acts relating to sexual gratification, you run the risk of facing charges for crimes related to prostitution or pimping. The extra charges over and above the seemingly light gambling sentence could threaten to add up to a potentially long prison term.   

If You Are Facing Charges Under the California Gambling Laws

If you or someone you know is facing gambling charges, accomplished defense attorneys at Kann California Law Group can help. Our lawyers are skilled at handling white collar crime cases both in the state and federal court systems. Call us today at (888) 744-7730 or contact us through our online contact formhttps://www.kannlawoffice.com/contact-us for a free case consultation that can help you protect your freedom and your valued reputation.

About the Author

Dan Kann

Daniel E. Kann has devoted his entire legal career exclusively to defending individuals facing criminal prosecution in Southern California. Dan fights criminal cases throughout Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Kern, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.


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