If you’re planning a family trip to Atlantic City, you may be wondering whether you can bring your children into a casino.  Children cannot go into a casino by themselves, but what about when they have their parents with them?  In many cases, children are strictly not allowed in casinos – either by casino policy or by state law – but exceptions and workarounds typically exist.  The Atlantic City casino crime lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych explain more information about the laws and rules surrounding bringing a minor into a casino.

Can You Bring Your Kids to a Casino in New Jersey?

Technically, minors are not allowed in casinos.  There are many qualifiers and caveats to this rule that might let you bring your child with you to a casino without any problems, but every case is different.  In most casinos, you can simply ask the security staff if it’s okay, and they should explain to you what areas the children can and cannot enter.  Atlantic City is a great family vacation destination, so casinos do typically work hard to make families and parents welcome.  However, it is important to observe the rules because it can actually be a crime to bring a minor into a casino or for a minor to enter a casino on their own.

In New Jersey, it is illegal for anyone under 21 to enter a casino or enter a bet at a casino.  This law is listed under N.J.S.A. § 5:12-119, not the criminal code, but it is still a disorderly persons offense that can lead to jail time and fines.  A parent or guardian who allows their child to go into a casino or helps their child get into a casino could also face charges, so it is important for parents to follow these rules as well.  Because the age limit is 21, this rule may even mean that some adult children between 18-20 will not be allowed in the casino either.

In most casinos, there is a wide walkway through the casino floor.  Typically, this area does not count as part of “the casino,” but is instead a path through the casino.  This path is necessary to help guests pass from the lobby to hotel rooms and restaurants without technically “entering” the casino floor.  Generally, security will be helpful in guiding you toward these “safe” paths through the casino if you have children.

If you see a slot machine or a table you want to gamble on, you typically cannot bring your child with you and should ideally have them wait in a safe area (ideally with another parent or guardian).  If you do bring a small child or a baby onto the casino floor, you may be asked to leave.

Casino security will typically ask you to leave or warn you to take the child out of the casino, but you could also be referred to police for criminal charges.  Because casino workers may face charges themselves for allowing minors on the casino floor, they may not take chances with warnings or leniency.

Penalties for Bringing a Minor into a Casino in Atlantic City

As mentioned above, entering a casino as a minor or allowing your minor child to enter a casino are both illegal under N.J.S.A. § 5:12-119.  This statute makes this offense a “disorderly persons offense,” which is a low-level criminal offense similar to what other states call a “misdemeanor.”

For parents or guardians who allow their minor into a casino, this could mean facing up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000.  While jail time might be rare in these cases, it is always possible that a judge may give you a sentence including jail time, probation, or other serious penalties.

For children under 18 charged with underage gambling or entering a casino, the charges can actually be more severe.  This minor will still face the potential penalties for a disorderly persons offense, including up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000, but they may face additional penalties as well.  Minors convicted of gambling illegally or entering a casino can face a driver’s license suspension on top of the other penalties.  This suspension lasts for 6 months.  If you do not have a driver’s license yet, this instead pushes back the date you are eligible for a driver’s license by 6 months.

Because these charges can go on your criminal record, it is vital to work with a criminal defense attorney who may be able to help you beat the charges and help you avoid a conviction.  Even a low-level crime could affect future opportunities and harm your ability to get jobs or education, especially if the crime involves your child, such as in an underage gambling situation.

Call Our Atlantic City Underage Gambling Lawyers Today for a Free Legal Consultation

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges for bringing a child into a casino, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today.  Our Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers may be able to help you fight the case against you and get charges dropped or dismissed.  For a free legal consultation, contact our attorneys today at 609-625-3006.