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Illegal Gambling Defense Attorneys in L.A.


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Throughout history, gambling has been a pastime in our country. Gambling can be anything from going to Vegas and trying your hand at slots, to a friendly game of poker with the boys on Friday night. However, several forms of gambling are still illegal in the state of California, and you can easily find yourself facing charges of unlawful gaming – even if you were only a player.

Being charged with any crime can be a terrifying and confusing experience – especially since those who are charged with illegal gaming are often first-time offenders who didn’t realize that they were doing anything wrong. The legal team at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP is here to help you through this and work to get the charges dropped.

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What Forms of Gambling Are Illegal in California?

Per California Penal Code Section 330, it is illegal to participate in, run, or conduct a percentage or banking game. A percentage game is any game where the “house” takes a percentage of any of the winnings, and a banking game is one where there is a “house” that collects from the losers and pays the winners.

Therefore, the following would be examples:

  • Illegal: Joe hosts a weekly poker night for his friends, and over time it becomes well-known for a good game. Joe starts taking a percentage of the winnings to support the activity, thereby making the game illegal.
  • Legal: Joe hosts a weekly poker night, and he and his friends bet between themselves with no percentage taken. This form of gambling is legal.

The California Penal Code names certain games but also generally states that any game played as a percentage or banking game is prohibited. The games specifically named are faro, monte, roulette, lansquenet, rouge et noire, rondo, tan, fan-tan, seven-and-a-half, twenty-one, and hokey-pokey.

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What Are the Penalties for Illegal Gaming?

Illegal gaming is classified as a misdemeanor and carries with it:

  • A fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or
  • Imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or
  • Both the fine and prison time

A further penalty is having a misdemeanor conviction on your criminal record, which can follow you for the rest of your life.

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What About Bingo at My Local Church?

There are legal provisions in many counties that allow non-profit organizations to have bingo games that would otherwise be illegal, as long as they meet specific criteria:

  • The bingo game is conducted by a tax-exempt charitable organization (such as a church), a mobile home park association, a senior citizens' organization, or a charitable organization affiliated with a school district;
  • The proceeds of the game are only used for charitable purposes;
  • No minors participate in the game;
  • No one receives any profit, wage, or salary from the game;
  • The game is conducted on property owned by, leased by, or donated to the charitable organization; and
  • The game is open to members of the public.

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What Are Common Defenses Against Gambling Charges?

The legal team at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP is comprised of talented, experienced trial lawyers. If you are facing charges of illegal gambling, some of the defense strategies that could be employed include:

  • You were not involved in a banking or percentage game: Games can sometimes appear to be banking or percentage games when, in fact, they aren’t. Proving this can result in the charges being dropped.
  • Illegal search or seizure: If the evidence was obtained without the proper legal procedures for getting it (including proper warrants), it cannot be presented in court.

It is vital to have an experienced law firm at your side to review the entire case and prepare the proper defense. With adequate preparation, it is often possible to have the charges dropped entirely, or at least to obtain the minimum possible sentence.

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Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP Can Help Defend Your Rights

Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP has been successfully defending clients against criminal charges since 1994. We have a history of success even in some of the most challenging and high-profile cases, and Los Angeles Magazine has listed our firm's Managing Partner Mark Werksman as one of LA’s “top white-collar criminal attorneys.”

If we take your case, you will get the team behind you – not just one attorney. We act fast and make every move count in our determined approach to protecting your rights. Our firm only does criminal defense – and we know it inside-and-out.

Call us today at (213) 688-0460 to schedule a free consultation.

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Contact Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP Today
Phone: (213) 688-0460
Fax: (213) 624-1942

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