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Gambling Fraud

What is Gambling?

Gambling is the participation in betting, gaming and lottery activities. These gaming and betting activities are either licensed or unlicensed. Gaming licenses draw the fine line between legal gambling and illegal gambling.

Gambling activities can be categorized in the following sectors; Arcades, Betting, Bingo, Casino, Lotteries, and Gaming Machines.

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Arcade games offer amusement for both adults and family. Adult arcade centers (also known as Adult Gaming Centers) require a license or permit from the local Gambling or Gaming Commission. Adult Gaming Centers have a strict age restriction, and no person under the age of 18 should be allowed to participate in gaming. Family Arcade Centers are categorized according to whether the establishment is licensed or not. These categories include Licensed Family Entertainment Centers and Unlicensed Family Entertainment Centers.


Betting is the activity that involves placing a stake in favor of a particular outcome. There are different types of betting; fixed odds betting, pool betting, and spread betting

Fixed odds betting is the most common type of betting. In this type of betting, your winnings are determined by pre-determined odds. For example, a $10 stake placed in favor of the New England Patriots in the 2019 Super Bowl (with fixed odds of 20/27) returned $ 17.40. Fixed odds betting is offered online, on racing tracks, and in betting shops.

In pool betting, the winnings are determined by the sum of stakes in the pool. Pool betting is offered for racecourse pool betting, sports pool betting, and fantasy football pool betting.


Casino games are offered in casino premises or online. Games offered in casinos include American Roulette, Baccarat, poker, gaming machines, and Blackjack.


Raffles, sweepstakes, and tombolas are types of lotteries. The State of California organizes and manages the State Lottery. The minimum age limit for participation in a lottery in California is 18 years. Participants under the age of 18 years suffer the risk of being charged with a misdemeanor.

Gaming Machines

Gaming machines are devices that act as platforms for gambling. Examples of gaming machines include fruit, jackpot and slot machines. Dual use consoles and domestic computers are not regarded as gaming machines in the context of gambling.

Gaming and gambling take various forms; from card games, slot machines to horse-racing. All forms of gambling are regulated by the State of California. Not all types of gambling are legal. Playing, dealing or conducting the following games is illegal in the State of California; Monte, Faro, Roulette, Rouge et Noire, Lansquenet, Tan, Rondo, Seven-and-a-half, Fan-tan, Twenty-one, Hokey-pokey, or any Banking and percentage games played with cards or dice.

Legal Gambling Platforms in California

The state laws of California recognizes the following gambling and gaming platforms:

Indian Casinos: These are Vegas-style casinos and Bingo halls. Common games include blackjack, poker, and slots. Indian Casinos are located on Indian land.

Cardclubs: Cardclubs are different from casinos. At a casino, players bet against the house while at defense players bet against themselves. Cardclubs make money by charging the players a participation fee.

Parimutuel Horse Wagering: Also known as mutual betting. It is a type of gambling where players are pooled against one another. The house collects the players' stakes then deduct taxes and management fees. The remainder comprises the winnings. California only allows Parimutuel betting only in the context of horse racing.

Charitable gambling: It is a form of gambling where all the proceeds go to charity. Most often than not, the games are hosted by charities. California only allows charitable gambling in the context of Bingo.

State Lottery: The State of California organizes and manages the California Lottery. The games involved in the lottery include Mega Millions and SuperLotto Plus.

Gambling Fraud

Penal Code 332 PC defines gaming or gambling fraud as fraudulently obtaining a person's property or money through a game of "Three-Card Monte" or fortune telling or betting on a sure thing. Does this mean that all gambling is illegal in California? If not then what are the legal forms of gambling? PC 330 of California's Gaming Law prohibits the use of card tricks and stacked card decks or other schemes to lure people into betting on a "sure thing."

Penal Code 332 PC defines gaming or gambling fraud as fraudulently obtaining a person's property or money through a game of "Three-Card Monte" or fortune telling or betting on a sure thing. Does this mean that all gambling is illegal in California? If not then what are the legal forms of gambling? PC 330 of California's Gaming Law prohibits the use of card tricks and stacked card decks or other schemes to lure people into betting on a "sure thing."

Common Types of Gambling fraud

There are numerous types of gambling fraud. Below is a highlight of the most common types of gambling.

   1. Multiple Account fraud: Gambling through online platforms require the opening of a user's account.  Sometimes players open multiple accounts for different reasons. If these accounts are opened using fake credentials, the user is guilty of multiple account fraud.
   2. Bonus Abuse: For promotional purposes, many online gambling services offer signup bonuses for new members. For example, on joining Legendary bet, you get a 100% bonus on your first deposit. There are those players that will take advantage of this opportunity by opening multiple accounts on the same platform. Opening numerous fake accounts to benefit from bonuses is known as bonus abuse.
   3. Gnoming: Gnoming is the use of multiple accounts to maximize winnings and bonuses by deliberately losing.
   4. Chip dumping: At a poker table, chip dumping is the use of multiple accounts to influence the game. With numerous accounts, a player can cheat in favor or against another opponent. This act of cheating counts as a type of gambling fraud.
   5. Top up fraud: Top up fraud is common among online gambling platforms. It is when players top up their accounts using credentials from stolen credit cards.
   6. Chargebacks: A chargeback is a request sent to your bank or credit card provider to reverse a top up you made on a gambling site. What makes this activity qualify as a fraudulent act is that your money will be refunded at the gambling provider's expense.
   7. Top up abuse: These days, many online casinos and betting site offer phone top-ups. Fraudsters take advantage of this to trick other people into topping up the fraudster's balance with the victim's money. It is the equivalent of stealing money to fuel one's gambling addiction.

Gambling Fraud and The Law

Article 332 of the Penal Code also prohibits the acquisition of property or money through fraudulent gambling. This includes poker chips and tokens with monetary value. Melinda and Hillary set out to scam the public in the form of a poker game. Melinda organizes the technicalities of the game including betting. Money is represented in the form of poker chips. Each chip represents a value of $10. Hillary acts as an innocent participant. Melinda hands the stack of cards. Hillary shuffles the card in such a way to ensure that Melinda wins. Hillary and Melinda are guilty of gambling fraud. Gaming or gambling fraud is a serious offense and consequences include prosecution and conviction.

Fortune Telling Fraud

In addition to illegal gambling; California's gaming fraud laws also prohibits fortune-telling fraud. Fortune telling is subject to many laws. Technically, fortune telling is considered as free speech, and the first amendment, therefore, protects it. In a way, a fortune is like a prediction to the future. A Maryland court thwarted an attempt to ban fortune tellers and their art form. The argument was that; banning fortune tellers is like banning stock predictions, sports tips, or newspaper horoscopes.

What defines the legality of fortune telling? There are religious practices that believe in exorcism, fortune telling, and gift offering. The constitution protects the right to religion. If a fortune teller claims a religious lifestyle that justifies his or her practice, the fortune teller is not guilty of fraud. If the fortune teller lets his or her clients know that the services on offer are purely for entertainment purposes, the fortune teller can be excused from fraud charges.

However, if there is evidence that the astrologer or fortune teller does not believe in his readings and predictions, the practice is regarded as a fraud. The fortune teller or astrologer suffers the risk of a successful prosecution under California's gaming laws.

California cities like Berkeley and Oakland have strict psychic rules. In San Francisco, the Police Department may get involved. According to the San Francisco Police code; the following activities are considered as fortune telling; cartomancy, clairvoyance, phrenology, tarot card reading, tea leaves, coffee grounds, crystal gazing, astrology, curse lifting, palmistry, and telepathy. Fortune telling is regulated by the city and to get a legal permit, and you would have to visit the Hall of Justice. The application for a fortune telling permit involves background checks, fingerprinting and public hearings. The background checks prevent repeat offenders from getting permits.

Penalties for Gaming Fraud

Similar to theft cases, the penalties for gaming fraud are dependent on the monetary value of the payment that the defendant obtained from the victim. For fraud involving property or money worth more than $950, the crime is regarded as a "Wobbler." A wobbler is a crime that is charged either as a felony or as a misdemeanor by California's laws. In most cases, the prosecutor decides the direction of the case (as a misdemeanor charge or as a felony charge). The judge has the power to decide whether to punish the wobbler crime as a felony; even if the prosecutor presented the case as a misdemeanor offense. If convicted, the defendant can petition the court's decision to reduce the felony conviction to a misdemeanor conviction. For felony convictions, the perpetrator is prohibited from owning a firearm.

If convicted for gambling fraud as a felony offense, the defendant suffers the risk of felony probation, jail time or fines. Felony probation is also known as formal probation. It is when the convicted serves part or the whole time of the sentence in the community. Felony probation usually lasts between three to five years. The probationer is required to report to a probation officer regularly. Under California's Realignment Program, the convict could serve 16 months, two years, or three years in county jail. For first time offenders, a fine not exceeding $5,000 could be charged. Second or subsequent offenders can pay up to $10,000 in fines.

If the fraud involves a monetary value of less than $950, PC 332 of the Penal Code dictates that the offense can only be charged as a California misdemeanor. The potential penalties for gaming fraud as a misdemeanor include; misdemeanor probation, fines and jail time. California's misdemeanor probation is also known as a summary or informal probation. It is the alternative of jail time where the convict serves most or the entire sentence under court-supervised community work. If the court punishes the misdemeanor with jail time, the convict may serve up to six months in county jail. Fines involved in the violation of PC 332 as a misdemeanor usually do not exceed $1,000.

Other penalties to gambling and gaming fraud involve deportation for non-U.S. citizens, professional or occupational permit restrictions, or restraining orders. In some cases, it is possible to have the cases dismissed. Gaming fraud offenses are not considered as violent crimes or as severe as those offenses defined in the Three Strike Sentencing Law of California.

Legal Defenses and Strategies Against Gambling Fraud

Fraud cases can be won because the ideas can be abstract on what is considered fraud. It is a matter of perspective. Fraud cases are very complex, and it will take the prosecutor a lot of time and resources to break down the case. The complexity of the case is a window of opportunity to the defense.

A common defense to gaming and gambling fraud is insufficient evidence. If a bet was not recorded, it could be hard for the prosecution to prove that the defendant wagered a particular stake in favor of a particular result. Cash transactions in the case of fortune telling are hard to trace. No cash, no evidence.

A coerced confession is a strategy that the defense can also use to fight the case. Other strategies include entrapment, mistaken fact, and expiry of the statute of limitations. Each case is different and unique in every way. As soon as you get arrested, it is recommended that you get in touch with a qualified attorney to discuss your case and your options.

Get the Best Legal Representation Near Me

Each case is unique in every way. We take our time to independently investigate and understand each case before we formulate a defense strategy. Criminal defense is not a "9-5" venture. Our practice is a 24/7 affair; we are available for calls and consultation at any time. Call 818-484-1100 for a free consultation today let us discuss your options. Do not wait until it is too late, there is a lot of preparation that takes place before your court date. If you feel like there is a reason for an arrest against you or your loved one, get in contact with Leah Legal. We aggressively defend our clients and treat every case with the care that is needed. Do not let your name get tainted over gambling fraud charges.

Legal References

1. Penal Code 332 PC: Obtaining money or property from another person through card monte or other similar games and bets is an offense. Anyone and everyone who by the game of Three Card Monte or any other device, game, sleight of hands, pretensions to telling fortunes, tricks, schemes by the use of playing cards or other implements or instruments, fraudulently acquires money and property shall be punished as in a case of larceny of property of similar value for the first offense except that the fine does not exceed $5,000. A second or subsequent offense shall be punished as in the case of larceny except that the fine may not exceed $10,000 or both fine and imprisonment. In this section of the penal code, the phrase "fraudulently obtains" includes, but not limited to cheating. Cheating in this context refers to gaining an unfair advantage over other players through tactics and schemes that are not sanctioned by the rules of the game.