Over 100 Not Guilty Verdicts At Trial | Over 2,000 Dismissals

* Statistics Verified by County Clerk of Court Documents

Read More
Client Testimonials
  • "I couldn't have asked for a better law firm!" by Anonymous (Google Review 2), Past Client
  • ""He’s who you want to talk to."" by Austin (2020), Past Client
  • "Superlative firm, experienced and professional. Definitely a stand out in Tallahassee." by Austin C., Past Client
  • "If you have a fight on your hands, you want Don Pumphrey in your corner." by D. Williams, Past Client
  • "Best criminal attorney in Florida" by Elizabeth R., Past Client
  • "I highly recommend them for your legal needs." by Jane S., Past Client
  • "If you are looking for top-notch legal council either locally or abroad, look no further. Don Pumphrey and his staff will fight unremittingly for your your rights!" by Jeremy C., Past Client
  • "I was referred to Mr. Pumphrey’s law firm through a mutual friend who spoke highly of him. At no surprise, he came through for me in a huge way. He was effective and efficient. If you are in need of a top notch lawyer that gets the job done, Don Pumphrey is who you need!" by Jonathan C., Past Client
  • "I would challenge anyone to find a more experienced, knowledgeable and result oriented criminal defense attorney anywhere" by Jonathan E., Peer
  • "I will definitely be recommending his firm to anyone I come across that needs legal counsel. Thank you Don! You put our anxiety at ease and established a relationship and referrals for a lifetime!" by Kim S., Past Client
  • ""He's one of the best lawyers in town. He's very nice and personable."" by Lashan, Former Client
  • "They were there for me every step of the way and I never felt like just another case to them." by Lauren J., Past Client
  • "I am profoundly grateful to you Don" by Lee N. Scheele Jr., Peer
  • " He's a great person and cares very much about his clients." by M.G., Past Client
  • "He worked relentlessly to achieve the best possible outcome in my circumstances. " by T.K., Past Client

Gambling Charges

gambling lawyer in florida

It may be surprising to hear that your friendly poker night at a neighbor’s house could result in criminal charges. While it may seem fun to bet money on a game of chance, it is illegal in the state of Florida.

Most people who are faced with gambling charges had no idea that they were doing anything wrong. That’s why it is important to have an understanding of Florida’s strict gambling laws, and how to defend yourself if you’ve been accused of a gambling crime.

Gambling Defense Attorney in Florida

Working with a skilled defense attorney in your area is your best bet at fighting a gambling charge. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience representing clients for various criminal charges and will work to create a viable defense to prove your innocence.

What is Gambling?

Gambling is defined as “playing or engaging in any card game or game of chance, at any place, by any device, for money or another thing of value.”

Gambling can include the following characteristics:

  • The unlawful betting or wagering money or something else of value;
  • Assisting, promoting, or operating a game of chance for a reward, including money or something else of value;
  • Manufacturing, selling, or purchasing, possessing, or transporting gambling devices or goods;
  • Tampering with the outcome of any sporting event, or contest to gain an advantage through gambling; or
  • Possessing or transmitting information for wagering

Gambling is quite broad, with various types of events that can be bet upon. The following is a list of potential events where gambling can take place:

  • Horse Racing – Pari-mutuel wagering (meaning a betting system in which all bets are placed in one large pool) of thoroughbred racing, quarter horse racing, or harness racing.
  • Dog Racing – Pari-mutuel wagering on greyhound dog racing.
  • Casinos – Gambling in a casino is prohibited unless it is tribal gaming pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
  • Other types of Gambling-Related Activities – Penny-ante games that have winnings of $10 or less are legal, which includes games like poker, pinochle, bridge, dominoes, and mahjongg. Cardrooms, bingo, and gaming for charitable purposes are also legal.

It is important to note that gambling is regulated under a combination of federal and state law. For states that do allow gambling and sports betting, they have established a gaming commission to oversee its regulations. For states that allow casinos, they must enforce strict zoning regulations to keep the areas separated from schools or residential areas. Under the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, states must follow any tribal gaming regulations that may apply.

In general terms, Florida has gambling laws that limit casinos to indigenous reservations. The amount of the wagers and the location of where casinos can be located is also dependent on state law. Florida allows social betting, but only when a $10 limit is imposed.

Florida law explains that a person can be penalized for violating the two following categories:

  • Participating in a gambling activity
  • Maintaining a gambling establishment

Florida’s Gambling Laws

When determining whether illegal gambling has taken place, it is important to determine if there was a game of chance that took place (blackjack, roulette, poker) or a game of skill (archery, golf, bowling).

Any wager, bet, or stake is linked to a game of chance, whereas premiums, purses, and prizes are linked to games of skill. In Florida, you can only win money in a contest of skill if the money was put up by a third-party person. If that is not the case, then the gamble is considered illegal.

All of Florida’s gambling laws are under Section 849 of the Florida Statute. The most common gambling crimes that are prosecuted include the following statute sections:

  • 01 Keeping Gambling House – It is against the law to maintain or exercise a gaming table or room, or uses a house, booth, tent, shelter, or other place for the purpose of gaming or gambling.
  • 09(1)(a)(d) Setting up or Promoting a Lottery – It is illegal for a person to set up, promote, or conduct any lottery for money or anything of value. It is against the law to conduct a lottery drawing, or to aid or assist in the setting up, promoting, or conducting of any lottery or lottery drawing.
  • 231 Gambling Related Machines – It is unlawful for any person to manufacture, sell, transport, offer for sale, purchase, own, or have in his or her possession any roulette wheel or table, faro layout, crap table or layout, or any other device, implement, apparatus, or paraphernalia commonly used in gambling establishments.
  • 25(2) Engaging in Bookmaking – Bookmaking is the act of taking or receiving any bet or wager upon the result of any trial or contest of skill, speed, power, or any mechanical apparatus or result of any chance, casualty, unknown or contingent event whatsoever.

Penalties for Gambling in Florida

Florida Statute Section 849.08 explains that participating in a gambling activity takes place whenever a person plays or engages in any game of cards, roulette, keno, faro, or other game of chance at any place, by any device, for money or another item of value. Any person who violates this law can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. The penalties for a second-degree misdemeanor include:

  • Up to $500 in fines; or
  • Up to 60 days in jail; and
  • 6 months of probation

If a person has been accused of keeping a gambling house, they can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor, with the same penalties as listed above.

If a person has been accused of setting up or promoting a lottery, they can be charged with a third-degree felony. The penalties for a third-degree felony include:

  • Up to $5,000 in fines; or
  • Up to 5 years in prison; and
  • 5 years of probation

If a person has been accused of being engaged in bookmaking, they can be charged with a third-degree felony, with the same penalties as listed above. 

If a person has been accused of gambling-related machine violations, they can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. The penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor include:

  • Up to a $1,000 fine; or
  • Up to 1 year in jail; and
  • 1 year of probation

Gambling Definitions

Under Section 849.35(5) of the Florida Statute, “gambling paraphernalia” is defined 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.”

The term “lottery ticket” is defined as every ticket, token, emblem, card, paper, or other evidence of a chance, interest, prize, or in connection with any lottery or game of chance.

Seizures for Forfeiture in Gambling Crimes

Under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, Section 932.701(2)(a)(2) defines the term “contraband” as:

“Any equipment, gambling device, apparatus, material of gambling, 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, or attempted to use 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.”

Section 849.36 of the Florida Statute explains the seizure of property used in the violation of lottery and gambling, which includes the following:

  • Every vessel or vehicle used for, or in connection with, the transportation, removal, storage, deposit, or concealment of lottery tickets that were used in violation of Florida’s gambling laws to be subject to seizure and forfeiture.
  • Any gambling paraphernalia used in connection with gambling, a lottery, or unlawful game of chance in which violates the state law, found by an officer while searching a vessel or vehicle, will be seized and kept throughout the necessary period while being used as evidence in any case.
  • The presence of any lottery ticket in a vessel or vehicle that is owned or operated by a person who was charged with violating a gambling law shall be prima facie evidence that such vessel or vehicle was being used in connection to a violation of the state’s gambling and lottery statutes. If a person removes, transports, deposits, or conceals a lottery ticket(s) it shall be considered enough evidence for the seizure of the vessel or vehicle.
  • The presence of lottery tickets in a room, place, vessel, or vehicle shall be prima facie evidence that such room, place, vessel, or vehicle and all apparatus, implements, machines, contrivances, or devices therein (“gambling paraphernalia”) is capable of being used in connection with a violation of the gambling and lottery statutes and is sufficient evidence for the seizure of said gambling paraphernalia.
  • It is the duty of any officer who finds such gambling paraphernalia being used in violation of the state’s gambling laws to seize and take possession of the property for disposition.

The Supreme Court’s 2018 Decision

In 2018 the United States Supreme Court decided to strike down the existing federal law which prohibited professional sports gambling. The Supreme Court found that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was violating states’ rights to legislate themselves. In a statement, the Court decided that banning sports betting was, “not [their decision] to make” and the Court would allow states to be “free to act on [their] own.”

In Florida specifically, there was a brief period in which in-person betting was legal—only three weeks of legality, to be precise. So why go back on the decision? The Seminole Tribe, which controls in-person betting in Florida, went to court after accusing the state of violating the Indian Gambling Regulatory Act. The case is still currently open, and until the legal battle is finalized, sports betting will remain illegal.

You can read more about sports betting and Florida’s legal battle on our page here.

Defenses to Gambling Charges in Florida

Gambling offenses are unique because the person who is attempting to convict you must have witnessed you commit the offense. That makes the following potential defenses to a potential gambling crime charge:

  • Lack of evidence
  • Mistaken identity
  • Unlawful search and seizure

For instance, if someone was accused of hosting a gambling event inside their home, the police must obtain a warrant or there must exist a warrant exception for law enforcement to search the house. The best way to strategize a strong defense is to work with an experienced defense attorney in your area.

To read more about search warrants and exceptions, read our blog post here.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one have been accused of committing a gambling offense, it is imperative that you seek out the advice of a skilled attorney. Florida takes its gambling laws seriously, and a conviction can result in harsh consequences. It is not worth betting your freedom to go it alone. Pumphrey Law Firm will stand by your side throughout the entire legal process, and work towards earning your freedom. Call us today for a free consultation at (850) 681-7777 or leave us an online message on our website.

Back to Top