Gambling in New Jersey is illegal until you turn 21. The government does this as a way of protecting minors from something that is considered by some to be dangerous or addicting. This is the same age as the legal drinking age, which often goes hand-in-hand with gambling. If you gamble underage, the casino worker who lets you gamble could face punishment – but so can you.

Talk to an attorney today if you were charged with underage gambling. The Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych may be able to take your case and fight to get your charges dropped or dismissed. Our attorneys offer free consultations on new cases.

Crime of Underage Gambling

Unlike most crimes, the crime of underage gambling is listed outside of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice. Instead, the gambling laws are under Title 5 of the New Jersey Code, which governs “amusements, public exhibitions and meetings.”

N.J.S.A. § 5:12-119 makes it a disorderly persons offense to gamble under the age of 21. A disorderly persons offense is the lowest level of state-wide offense in New Jersey, but it is still very serious. Every disorderly persons offense carries the possibility of a fine up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.

This crime of underage gambling is even more strict. While the fine may go as high as $1,000, this offense also has a minimum fine of $500. That means that, no matter what you do, a conviction for this crime means at least $500 in fines.

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There is also a mandatory drivers’ license suspension for underage gambling. Many crimes and offenses aimed at younger adults and older teens have a mandatory license suspension as part of the punishment. For this crime, you will lose your license for six months. If you are too young to have a license yet, your ability to get a license will be postponed an extra six months. (meaning you can’t drive until you are 17 1/2 years old).

In addition, the worker who allowed you into the casino or let you gamble underage can also face a penalty. This means that your actions could get that person in trouble if they cannot tell you were actually under 21. For them, it is also a disorderly persons offense punishable by six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. If you used a false ID to get in, that might be a defense for them – but it could constitute an additional crime for you. Using a false ID is also illegal in New Jersey and could even constitute identity theft if you used another person’s ID.

These laws generally apply to things like casinos and lotteries. Entering a raffle at your school or church where you can win an item is not illegal under this act. This may be stretched to include other sweepstakes with cash or valuable prizes, but always check the rules of those contests and talk to an attorney if you are in doubt as to whether it would count as illegal underage gambling.

Online Underage Gambling

Online gambling has been a heavily debated issue in New Jersey over the past decade. As it stands, the New Jersey government maintains a list of approved websites where it is legal to gamble online. New Jersey’s laws only allow gambling in Atlantic City. To get around this rule, all of the legal gambling sites have their servers physically in Atlantic City. The law also only permits gambling from Atlantic City casino websites.

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Because these rules basically extend Atlantic City’s casino gambling to the internet, it is still illegal to gamble under the age of 21. The logistics of checking ID for age are obviously strained in this system. This may make it easy for people under the age of 21 to get a credit card and sign up for online gambling services – but it is still illegal. If you do gamble online while you are under 21 years-old, you could still face jail time and heavy fines.

As the law stands, there is much confusion over the current and future state of online gambling. Even if you are over 21, online gambling at the wrong sites can lead to illegal gambling charges. Talk to an attorney if you have any doubts about the legality of your gambling.

Atlantic City Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or your child was charged with gambling crimes, talk to an attorney. The Atlantic City casino crimes defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych fight criminal charges in Atlantic City and throughout South Jersey. If you were charged with underage gambling, you could face fines, jail time, and license suspensions. These serious penalties require serious criminal defense strategies.

Our attorneys offer free consultations on new cases. To talk to an attorney about your charges, call our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.