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Gambling Crimes in Florida

According to the Florida Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) program, the term “gambling” is defined to include:

  • unlawfully betting or wagering money or something else of value;
  • assisting, promoting, or operating a game of chance for money or some other stake;
  • manufacturing, selling, purchasing, possessing, or transporting gambling devices or goods;
  • tampering with the outcome of a sporting event, or contest to gain a gambling advantage; or
  • possessing or transmitting wagering information.

The most commonly prosecuted crimes related to gambling include:

  • 849.01 – keeping gambling house
  • 849.09(1)(a)-(d) – setting up or promoting a lottery
  • 849.23 – gambling related machines
  • 849.25(2) – engaging in bookmaking

In 2018, the FDLE reported a total of 123 arrests for gambling. The number of arrests for gambling crimes tends o go down each year.

Attorney for Gambling Crimes in Florida

If you were accused of procuring or permitting another to gamble at a place under their control or keeping a gambling room or house, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm.

Accusations might include running a card game, bingo game, or slot machines.

We represent clients charged with gambling crimes under Florida law including sections 849.01,  849.08, 849.11, and 849.14.

Call 813-250-0500.

Crimes for Maintaining a Gambling House

In McBride v. State, 39 Fla. 442, 22 So. 711 (1897), the court explained the purpose of Florida’s gambling statute is not to prohibit gambling itself but the keeping of a house or other place for gambling.

The first part of Florida’s gambling statute deals with keeping or maintaining a gambling room or house. The statute requires proof that some game or device condemned as gambling has been habitually played or carried on at a place owned or subject to a defendant’s control, with that defendant’s knowledge and consent.

The statutory scheme of chapter 849 relating to gambling shows a general intent to treat the business or profession of gambling as a felony while treating the casual or occasional act of gambling as a misdemeanor.

In addition to maintaining or keeping a gambling room or house, the statute also prohibits procuring or permitting another to gamble at a place under their control.

Penalties for Gambling Crimes in Florida

A single act of gambling is a crime that is separate and distinct from the offense of keeping a gambling house. For instance, in Cohen v. State, 189 So.2d 498 (Fla. 3d DCA 1966), the district court held that competent proof of only a single instance of taking a bet was insufficient to convict the defendant of maintaining a gambling house under section 849.01.

The two versions of Florida gambling statutes, Sections 849.093 and 849.01, are different in that Section 849.093 is a specialized exception to the general prohibition against gambling. See Carroll v. State, 361 So.2d 144 (Fla. 1978).

A conviction under section 849.01 is charged as a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.

A conviction for the act of gambling is a second-degree misdemeanor under sections 849.08, 849.11, and 849.14, Florida Statutes, which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Under Section 849.13, the punishment on second conviction provide:

“Whoever, after being convicted of an offense forbidden by law in connection with lotteries, commits the like offense, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.”

Definition of Gambling Paraphernalia

Section 849.35(5), Fla. Stat., defines “gambling paraphernalia” as “every description of apparatus, implement, machine, device or contrivance used in, or in connection with, any violation of the lottery, gaming and gambling statutes, and laws of this state, except facilities and equipment furnished by a public utility in the regular course of business, and which remain the property of such utility while so furnished.”

Seizures for Forfeiture in Gambling Crimes

According to Section § 932.701(2)(a)(2) of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, the term “contraband article” includes:

Any equipment, gambling device, apparatus, material of gaming, proceeds, substituted proceeds, real or personal property, Internet domain name, gambling paraphernalia, lottery tickets, money, currency, or other means of exchange which was obtained, received, used, attempted to be used, or intended to be used in violation of the gambling laws of the state, including any violation of chapter 24, part II of chapter 285, chapter 546, chapter 550, chapter 551, or chapter 849.

For example, Section 849.15 makes it unlawful to own a slot machine defined in section 849.16, Florida Statutes.

This article was last updated on Friday, March 11, 2022.

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