Gambling fraud is when you utilize tricks, card games, betting or gambling, or pretentious fortune-telling to obtain another person's goods, money, or services. Using card tricks, strategies, and stacked decks to deceive individuals into putting a sure bet or engaging in other similar acts is prohibited, even though the law does not forbid bookmarking or gambling. For example, if you utilize cards to predict someone's future illegally, you are guilty of gambling fraud.

The details of your case and your criminal record will determine your punishment for gambling fraud in California. You could face charges for a felony or misdemeanor, which carries a potential three-year jail term and a hefty fine. However, if you face accusations of gambling fraud in Los Angeles today, we can assist you in fighting your charges for a just resolution. At Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, our team of knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys is prepared and willing to accompany you as you navigate this challenging legal procedure. We could compel the judge to dismiss or reduce your charges.

Legal Meaning of Gambling

Gambling is any activity in which a participant stakes money or valuable goods to win a prize or reward. Since the outcome of gambling activities usually involves some element of luck, the player in this circumstance does not have a guarantee of winning anything. Various means exist for people to participate in gambling activities. Numerous new types of gambling, like internet gaming, have emerged due to advancing technology.

Only when gaming involves the desire to defraud another person or individuals of their money and other possessions is it deemed unlawful by California law. The law permits some types of gambling, but only under rigorous guidelines that prevent players from employing deception to cheat other people out of their money and other assets. Californians frequently play bingo, card games, horse racing betting, tribal casinos, slot machines, and arcade games.

Gambling takes many forms, like amusement-oriented arcade games. Adult arcade games are available in California. A license is necessary to run establishments that offer adult arcade games. Also operating under rigorous rules are these facilities. For example, only those at least eighteen can engage in these gaming activities.

Even in California, gambling is rather prevalent. Sports wagering is not permitted by California law, although other types are allowed. To receive a benefit in the event of a specified outcome, a stake of a specific sum of money or an object of a specific value is placed when betting. Pool betting, fixed odds wagering, and spread wagering are popular types.

Playing casino games is another kind of gambling activity. Casino games can be set up on gaming sites or online. This category of games includes baccarat, roulette, blackjack, and poker. Additionally, there are gaming machines here that provide a variety of games, including jackpots, fruit machines, and slot machines.

The government organizes and controls some lotteries. Another authorized type of gambling is the lottery. However, you should be at least eighteen to play in these lotteries. Raffles and sweepstakes are two popular lotteries.

The state acknowledges and endorses the following types of gambling:

  • Card clubs — They receive revenue from the participation fees paid by customers. In contrast to casinos, card clubs do not typically allow gamers to play against the casino.
  • Gaming for philanthropic purposes — All winnings from this category of gambling go to charitable causes. Remember that California only accepts Bingo as a type of charitable gaming. Most of these gambling events are planned and managed by nonprofit organizations.
  • State-run lotteries, like the megamillions and super lotto, are available at Indian casinos, which also have bingo halls and casinos in the vein of Las Vegas. Blackjack, slots, and poker are popular games in Indian casinos.

Legal Definition of Gambling Fraud

Under PC 332, gambling fraud is illegal in California. Gaining cash or other valuables from another individual using dubious fortune-telling, card games, or gambling is considered a crime. The components of the offense are detailed in the statute. For the judge to find you guilty, the prosecution must prove these elements beyond a reasonable doubt. These components include:

  • You obtained valuables or money from someone else.
  • You accomplished this by a three-card monte game or any other card game, tricks, wagering, gambling, or deceptive fortune telling.

A dishonest acquisition of money or valuable property entails deception. For example, using a method or tactic allowed under the gaming rules to unfairly advantage oneself over another player.

According to California law, fraud is acting dishonestly, without integrity, or with moral turpitude. To deceive other players involves breaking the game's regulations. If you play cards honestly and win, and if your victory is legitimate and obvious, you are not being dishonest. However, even if the game you play is lawful, you are still guilty of gaming fraud when you apply tricks to defeat other players.

However, you must have received money or valuable goods from other players for gambling fraud allegations to stand. For example, players must purchase the chips they use in poker games. Each game's losers are responsible for covering all of their lost chips. The winner receives that sum of money. Thus, if you cheat or use trickery to win at poker, you will cause other players to lose money, which fulfills the requirements for this crime.

Other than playing card games, many other ways to violate gambling fraud laws exist in California. Here are some additional typical methods that gamblers cheat in California. Keep in mind that what matters is that you obtain money or goods from someone else illegally:

Through Fortune Telling or Free Speech

Some individuals abuse their right to free speech to defraud unsuspecting victims of their money and other goods. That frequently occurs as a result of fortune-telling. While free speech and different types of expression, like fortune telling, are not strictly prohibited in California, doing so to earn money or valuable assets is considered gambling fraud and is punishable by law.

However, based on the facts of your case, the court must first decide if your fortune-telling constitutes a crime. If your religion allows your actions, you will not face accusations of gambling since certain religions practice fortune-telling. Even when you take money or valuables from people for your services, you will not face charges if fortune-telling is acceptable in your religion or community. If you display a sign informing potential customers that your services are primarily for amusement, you will also avoid criminal charges for fortune-telling.

However, if you make predictions for other people's money and your beliefs do not allow it, you can face gambling fraud charges. You will be guilty under California PC 332 if the judge determines that your principal goal is to profit from unwary clients.

Consequently, depending on the specifics of your case, fortune-telling could result in gambling fraud charges. You will need the assistance of an accomplished criminal attorney to persuade the jury that your goals were not to deceive them but rather to educate or amuse them.

Holding Multiple Gaming Accounts

Online gambling is steadily gaining popularity, particularly among those who wish to have fun while earning extra cash. But to play online games, you need a user account. Fraudsters employ various strategies to prey on other online players, including creating several user profiles with unique login information. Making an online gaming account using fictitious user information could result in charges of gambling fraud. Gambling fraud also includes using several accounts to deceive other online players.

Chip Dumping

Chip dumping in poker games is quite common. It is a ruse that online scammers employ to steal money from unwary online gamers. Dumping chips is giving them to another player at the table knowingly. To sway the results of a poker game, scammers open multiple accounts. They can manipulate other players using strategies like chip dumping when managing many accounts.

Online Casino Chargebacks

A chargeback occurs when an online gamer complains to their bank or credit card company that their account has been charged for an incorrect purchase at a casino. They do that to request a chargeback, which costs the casino money. Chargebacks are a tool fraudsters use to take advantage of online casinos unfairly. The money a player transfers from their account to a casino can be reversed if they contest a transaction.

Bonus Abuse

Some gaming websites offer players a 100% bonus on their initial deposits to entice new players to start playing right away after signing up. Gaming scammers utilize these advantages by setting up several accounts with fictitious information. Making a phony account to receive a sign-up bonus is fraudulent and could lead to accusations of gaming fraud. They take advantage of casino bonuses to win large sums of money.

Top-up Fraud

Additionally, to keep playing games on your online gaming accounts, you must continually top off your balances. Tricking someone into adding money to your online gaming account is against the law. It is the same as using someone else's money without their permission to pay for your gaming activities. If you top off your online gaming account using someone else's credit card or credit card information from a stolen card, you also violate this law.

The criteria of gambling fraud are also met when you open multiple gaming accounts to increase your winnings. Some people set up many accounts to compete against themselves and produce a profitable winning or losing scenario.

Penalties for a Gambling Fraud Conviction in California

In California, gambling fraud is punished as either petty theft or grand theft. The prosecutor decides what to charge you with based on the monetary value of the property you obtain from the alleged victim. The crime is a wobbler offense if you steal the victim's property valued at $950 or more. According to the specifics of your case and your criminal history, the prosecutor could charge you with a felony or a misdemeanor.

However, you will face charges for a misdemeanor under PC 332 if the value of the property you illegally gained from the victim is less than $950.

The following punishments apply to gambling fraud misdemeanor convictions:

  • Misdemeanor or summary probation
  • One year in jail
  • Court fines of up to $1,000

If you face felony charges for gambling fraud, you could receive the following punishments:

  • Felony or formal probation
  • A maximum of three years in prison
  • A fine of up to $5,000 and up to $10,000 for the second offender

Misdemeanor and Felony Probation

Instead of sending you to jail or prison, the judge can decide to sentence you to probation. When that occurs, you will either serve your jail term or a portion outside of confinement.

Probation for misdemeanor offenses could last for one to five years. Depending on the specifics of your case, the court decides how long your probation will be. You must follow all probation rules laid forth by the court while on misdemeanor probation. Additionally, the court will have direct oversight of you. In that situation, you must provide the judge with regular reports outlining your progress while on probation.

After a felony conviction for gambling fraud, the judge can potentially sentence you to probation. You would then be placed on felony probation, which could last three to five years. The judge determines how long you will be on probation. They also establish probationary requirements that you should follow. Keep in mind that while on felony probation, you will be under the surveillance of a probation officer. The officer will keep an eye on you, compile reports, and periodically present them in court.

If probation is not producing the desired results, the judge could reconsider your sentence and send you is committed to jail or prison for the full term recommended under the law.

Following a finding of guilt in a case of gambling fraud, you can be given the following probation requirements:

  • Regular reporting to the judge or probation officer is required.
  • Payment of court fees and victim reparations
  • During probation, you must follow all laws to avoid facing arrests or charges for a crime.
  • Taking part in community service
  • Remaining within the court’s jurisdiction throughout the probation period

You commit a crime when you fail to adhere to the judge’s probation requirements. The court will schedule a probation violation hearing if you break one or more of the terms of your probation. The judge could choose one of these three conclusions at the end of the hearing:

  • Maintain your probation but under new, more stringent guidelines.
  • Maintain your probation terms while sternly warning you against further infractions
  • Revoke your probation and place you in custody or prison for the total amount of time stipulated by law for the initial offense.

How To Fight Gambling Fraud Charges

A gambling fraud conviction can alter your entire life. Your ability to find a suitable job could be only one of the many parts of your life that are negatively impacted by having a harmful criminal record. Anyone looking up your criminal history will discover the conviction. That could affect how they treat you. For example, if a prospective landlord learns that you have a criminal past, they can refuse you the chance to rent a place in your chosen area. Therefore, you must defend yourself against the charges. You can alter the result of your case with the assistance of an accomplished criminal defense lawyer. The following are some of the most effective legal defense tactics your lawyer can implement in your case:

You Had No Fraudulent Intent

You must have acted with the intent to defraud another person to get money or valuable property from them via deception, wagering, or gaming to face charges for gambling fraud. The prosecutor will not find you guilty per this statute if your intentions were not to defraud. You could counter that you were only playing for pleasure and not for financial advantage when you playfully employed a few gimmicks. The judge will drop your charges if the court accepts your defense plan.

You Were Using Your Free Speech Rights

If you face accusations of gambling fraud because of something you said, your defense team can use this defense tactic. For example, you could have predicted someone's future, and as a thank-you gift, they gave you money or valuable property. In this situation, you would not have behaved dishonestly. Additionally, those whose religion permits fortune-telling are not engaged in gambling fraud if others ask them for their assistance in making predictions.

The Police Entrapped You

The police employ several techniques to obtain proof of some crimes committed covertly. Sadly, some of these techniques are prohibited. For example, entrapment is not permitted by law, and the judge could exclude from consideration some of the evidence acquired by the prosecution team.

During a police undercover operation, entrapment could occur. This occurs when police interact openly with suspected criminals to understand their methods before arresting them. However, there have been allegations that the police have lured suspects into committing crimes that they would not have otherwise if the situation had been different.

To be caught, a police officer can harass, press, intimidate, flatter, threaten, or commit fraud. However, as mentioned above, you must prove in court that the officer's push was the only reason you committed the offense. The judge will drop your charges if the court accepts your defense plan.

California Gambling Fraud and Related Charges

Some offenses under California law are closely related to gambling fraud. They include:

Illegal Gambling

Under California Penal Code 330, unlawful gambling is prohibited. You are engaging in gambling fraud when you play a percentage or banking game while gambling. A bank or house will participate in a banking or percentage game to collect money from losers and utilize that money to pay out the winners. Any banned game must not be dealt with, played, opened, conducted, or carried out legally. All matches that fall within the categories of percentage games or banking games are illegal under California law. These games include twenty-one, roulette, and rondo, as examples.

A misdemeanor under PC 330 carries a court fine of $100 to $1,000 and a possible jail sentence of six months.

Bookmarking, Wagering, or Pool-selling

California PC 337a prohibits betting, pool selling, and bookmarking. It is against the law for anyone to bookmark, pool-sell, and record bets in a confined location, like a room or building, or receive, forward, or keep cash or other assets used as stakes in a wager. Anyone detected placing or taking bets could face charges under the legislation.

Making written or verbal wagers is called bookmarking.

Selling or distributing shares or chances in a betting pool is called pool selling.

A bet is an agreement or wager between two individuals or more that, in the event of a specified uncertain event, the loser will pay the winner money or provide them with a valuable commodity. Before the event, a bet is placed.

In California, wagers are typically placed on the results of athletic events. However, other events can be wagered on, such as political elections.

PC 337a is a wobbler offense, which means that depending on the circumstances of the case, the prosecutor can charge it as either a misdemeanor or a felony. A felony conviction carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison, while a misdemeanor conviction carries a maximum sentence of one year.

Find an Experienced Criminal Attorney Near Me

Are you facing accusations of gaming fraud in Los Angeles?

Given the seriousness of the accusations of gaming fraud and the severe punishments that result from a conviction, this could be the most challenging moment of your life. However, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can assist you in getting a good result. Our Los Angeles Criminal Attorney staff will analyze your case's specifics to develop the most potent legal defense strategy. We will also provide guidance and support throughout the challenging legal process. We will only give up once you are happy with the outcome of your case. Call us at 424-333-0943, and let us help you navigate this difficult path.