Gambling Offenses in Florida

illegal gambling florida defense attorney

According to the Orlando Sentinel, in June of 2012, Orange County Deputies interrupted an ongoing gambling operation at a condominium located in Waterford Lakes. This was a sophisticated operation, including a guard armed with a 9mm handgun. Police reported they found poker games in progress in the living room of the condominium as well as in a bedroom.

In addition to the man with the gun who was acting as a lookout, the police arrested a “money man” who was handing out chips and who had $1,680 in cash. The resident of the condo and a man from Orlando were both dealing cards. Investigators also found a poker table, cards, a ledger, and chips.

Florida Gambling Laws

In Florida, only the Native American (Seminole) owned casinos are exempt from state gambling laws. The state allows for social gambling, where a $10.00 limit is imposed. The offenses of Simple Gambling and Aggravated Gambling often appear to carry the same penalty; they are both considered a misdemeanor.

The difference between simple gambling and aggravated gambling differs from state to state but is usually equivalent to whether or not someone is making money on a game of chance, over and beyond what they might make as a participant in the games themselves. It also deals with what one could call “professional.”

On July 1, 2003, Florida authorized card rooms to offer poker limits of $2.00 per betting round, with a limit of three raises per betting round. Any card room that allows higher bets or more raises per round is violating state law. The incident reported by the Orlando Sentinel was obviously a “professional” operation as they simply had too much money present for it not to be. As a result, those involved faced prosecution for illegal gambling.

Contests of Chance vs. Contests of Skill

One of the primary considerations when determining whether or not the gambling taking place is legal is by first identifying if it is a game of chance (blackjack, roulette, poker) or skill (archery, golf, bowing). Florida only allows money to be won in contests of skill if the money is put up by a third party donor. Otherwise, it will be illegal as you cannot legally bet on yourself.

All wagers, bets, and stakes are linked with games of chance while premiums, purses, and prizes are linked to games of skill. Again, as long as the individuals taking place in the contest are not putting up the money, the actions are legal. However,  in situations when multiple people create a “pot” of money as a result of each person making personal contributions, all parties involved can face gambling charges and be subjected to the associated penalties.

Florida Penalties for Illegal Gambling

Florida Statute § 849.08 explains that “Whoever plays or engages in any game at cards, keno, roulette, faro or other game of chance, at any place, by any device whatever, for money or other thing of value, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree…” The criminal penalties associated with second-degree misdemeanors in Florida are as follows:

  • Up to 60 days in jail; or
  • 6 months probation; and
  • $500 in fines

It isn’t uncommon for those charged with gambling to also face additional charges like keeping gambling houses and permitting gambling on a billiards table which can result in penalties adding up. Best protect yourself from the state by acquiring the legal services of an attorney with experience handling a diverse range of gambling crimes.

How an Orlando Gambling Defense Lawyer Can Help

When the law is clear-cut and obvious, or when case law is right on point, a lawyer’s job is relatively easy; that is unless the client is clearly guilty but wants to plead not guilty. In cases where the law is somewhat ambiguous, such as interpreting some parts of Florida gambling law, the job becomes much more difficult.

Even though “simple gambling” and “aggravated gambling” both are prosecuted as misdemeanors, the judge will doubtlessly point out the difference to a jury and will also consider it in sentencing. It is in your best interest to retain a lawyer who has litigated gambling charges in similar situations to ensure that they will be able to decipher the laws and make a solid defense for your criminal charges.

Contact Us Today to Discuss Your Defense Options

The Orlando gambling defense lawyers at The Umansky Law Firm have over 100 years of combined experience and time spent as prosecutors on the state and local level. With a diverse range of expertise, our team of lawyers among Florida’s elite and continue to provide exceptional criminal defense for those facing a range of criminal charges.

Bring your gambling case to us; we will analyze the details of your case, and serve as your legal counsel throughout all legal proceedings. Contact us today at 407-228-3838 for a free case evaluation.