Gambling in a New Jersey casino is illegal if you are under 21. Atlantic City is known as a huge spot for casino gambling, but it is also a common family vacation spot, and laws like this work to prevent things like gambling and children from mixing. If you are caught in a casino underage, not only can you face arrest, but a parent or adult who allows you to gamble can be arrested as well. The Atlantic City casino crimes lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych offer free consultations on underage gambling charges and other casino offenses.
When Can You Get Arrested for Being Under 21 in a Casino in Atlantic City?
New Jersey law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from being in a casino or gambling once inside. This rule is found in N.J.S.A. § 5:12-119 and makes it illegal to “enter, or wager in, a licensed casino or simulcasting facility” if you are under the drinking age.
This law makes underage gambling a “disorderly persons offense,” which is similar to a misdemeanor offense. This places this offense on par with crimes like shoplifting, underage drinking, and simple assault. The penalties for this offense include up to 6 months in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, and a 6-month driver’s license suspension. If you are under 18 at the time, it may be handled as a juvenile offense.
Since it is illegal to gamble underage, you can certainly be arrested if you are caught in a casino while you are under 21. Even though a casino is private property, it is still a public area where people can enter off the street and walk around. This means that police can enter normally and investigate anyone they suspect to be underage. Some casinos work with police to encourage monitoring like this, or they have their own security staff who can investigate and detain anyone caught gambling underage while the police are called.
Not every area in a casino is part of the gambling area, and it is perfectly reasonable to pass through many casino floors. People under 21 should not enter rooms or halls set up specifically for gambling, but many open areas of the casino floor have a walkway that cuts through the center with machines or tables positioned off this path. In most situations, it is perfectly legal for someone under 21 to pass through this area or stay on the walkway. Especially if a child is with their parent and they stay on the path, there is no reason for anyone to bother them or accuse them of underage gambling.
In addition, N.J.S.A. § 5:12-119 specifically states that this law should not apply to anyone passing through the casino floor to get to another room. Because of this, you should not have to worry about going into the wrong areas if you are cutting through a lobby or casino floor to get to your hotel room, a restaurant, or a building exit.
Can Parents Be Arrested if Their Child is in a Casino Underage?
Any adult who allows a child in their care to enter a casino is at risk for getting arrested themselves. Subsection (c) of the underage gambling statute creates an additional crime for anyone who allows someone under 21 to gamble while “under his or her lawful care, custody, or control.”
While the base underage gambling statute makes it illegal to even enter a casino, this statute only makes it illegal to allow someone under your supervision to actually gamble. The statute bars parents and guardians from allowing underage people to “wager or attempt to wager.” This means that letting your child put a coin in the slot machine or pull the arm is absolutely prohibited. However, making a quick stop off the walkway to try your luck at a slot machine while your child stands next to you should not be charged under this statute. However, it is still illegal for your child to be there, and they could get in trouble even if you can’t. You may also be charged under other statutes.
Any casino worker who allows someone under 21 to make a wager can also face charges for allowing underage gambling. The worker should have training in identifying underage gamblers, but oversights happen. A casino worker may be able to avoid charges if they were given a false ID or it was difficult for the average person to tell the gambler was under 21.
Anyone over 21 who is commits the crime of allowing someone under 21 to gamble can be arrested for this crime. They ultimately face the potential of a disorderly persons offense as well, which is punished with up to 6 months in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
Atlantic City Underage Gambling Defense Lawyer Offering Free Consultations
If you or your child was charged with underage gambling in Atlantic City or anywhere in New Jersey, contact The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. Our Atlantic City defense attorneys offer free consultations on criminal charges to help you understand your options and how the case might proceed. To schedule your free consultation, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.