New Jersey law prohibits gambling or entering a casino if you are under 21 years-old. In many cases, the penalties for this offense can be quite serious. The Atlantic City underage gambling lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych explain some common ways that people get arrested for underage gambling in New Jersey and how you may be able to defend against these charges. For a free consultation on your casino crime charges, contact our law offices today.
Ways to Get Arrested for Underage Gambling in NJ
Underage gambling is a disorderly persons offense. This means that the penalties for gambling under the age of 21 commonly include up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. On top of this, underage offenses like underage gambling and underage drinking also carry a 6-month driver’s license suspension. This means that the offense of underage gambling can be quite harsh.
Because the penalties are so great, casinos and police may do everything in their power to prevent arrests from happening in the first place. Many casinos card people before allowing them to enter the casino floor, or they may have workers going around looking for people under 21. These workers may not try to get you arrested right away, and instead tell you to leave the area (or leave the casino entirely) and let you off with a warning. Because of this, many underage gambling arrests only come after some other issue that brings your underage gambling to the attention of police and casino security, such as in the following examples:
If you manage to place bets at a table, on a sporting event, or at a slot machine, you may win. If you do, you may get in serious trouble if you were underage. Attempting to cash out with chips or tokens as an underage gambler gives casino staff and police a good chance to look at you and question your age. Especially if you won a substantial amount, you may need to provide ID or bank information to claim your prizes, which is a sure-fire way to expose your age. In addition, turning in winnings is excellent proof that you already placed a wager, helping prove you broke NJ’s underage gambling law.
Wandering Around the Casino Floor
Under N.J.S.A. § 5:12-119, it is illegal to place a bet or even enter a casino if you are under 21. However, it is not illegal to pass through a casino on the way to another room. That means you should be able to safely walk through a casino floor without getting arrested if you are going to the lobby, your room, an exit, or a restaurant. However, lingering too long can cause problems. If you take a long route through the casino or stop to watch other gamblers, you may draw the attention of police or casino staff, who may feel obligated to report you and get you arrested for entering a casino underage.
Many run-ins with casino security or police come from refusing to cooperate. If you are asked to leave a casino because you are underaged, it is important that you immediately leave. If casino security needs to get involved or you are told to leave multiple times, they may call the police. Things can be especially bad if you were asked to leave, then return later. In addition to charges for entering a casino underage, you could also face criminal trespassing charges under circumstances like these.
While New Jersey has no laws against being drunk in public, there are still laws against drinking underage or being disruptive and engaging in disorderly conduct while drunk. If you use a fake ID to gamble and drink underage, things may get out of hand. If a cop or casino employee looks further into your fake ID when you order drinks, or if you are arrested for disorderly conduct, it will soon become apparent that you are also illegally present in the casino or placing illegal wagers by being under 21. This can lead to separate, individual charges for the underage gambling, the underage drinking, and the disorderly conduct.
Nothing is going to attract attention from police and casino security more than starting a fight. If casino staff accuses you of underage gambling or you get into an argument with staff or another patron, police may respond promptly. If you are arrested for assault or disorderly conduct for the fight, you may also be investigated for underage gambling and charged with a disorderly persons offense.
Our Lawyers Can Help with Your Underage Gambling Charges
Underage gambling carries strict penalties, but there may be ways to avoid prosecution, especially if you suffer from alcoholism or gambling addiction which led you to commit the offense. If you or your child was arrested in a casino for underage gambling, call The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today for a free legal consultation. Our Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers can help explain the charges and potential penalties you face and fight to keep you out of jail. To schedule a free legal consultation, call our lawyers today at (609) 616-4956.