California Penal Code 330 PC
PC 330 – Gaming
Gaming – Table of Contents
Gaming, CA Penal Code 330 PC, is defined by the state as anyone who deals, plays, carries on, opens or conducts specific games including faro, monte, roulette, lansquenet, rouge et noire, rondo, tan, fan-tan, seven-and-a-half, twenty-one, or hokey-pokey. Additionally, PC 330 prohibits any banking or percentage game played with cards, dice or any device.
The statute would not prohibit a social game between friends, or certain charity events because PC 330 requires gaming where players bet against the “house” (a banking game) or games of chance in which the house receives a percentage of the money wagered (a percentage game).
Gaming can be a crime that is difficult to understand because the word “gambling” is not used in the statute. This is a good example of when it may be difficult to determine what constitutes a crime. Not surprisingly, when common words and phrases are used in criminal statutes, the definitions may not be exactly the same outside the law. Moreover, as courts have noted, some terms, such as a “percentage game” has no particular meaning in the gambling industry, which can be confusing to people who work in or are familiar with gaming.
Gaming in California is a misdemeanor, and if a defendant is convicted of PC 330 Gaming, the possible penalties include:
- custody in county jail for up to six months and/or
- a fine between $100 and $1,000.
Notably, incarceration is not mandatory, and a judge could sentence a defendant to probation. Terms of probation can include:
- community service
- mandatory counseling for gambling addiction.
Of course, any conviction, even a misdemeanor, could have an impact beyond the actual sentence. While misdemeanors generally do not trigger the same collateral consequences as a felony conviction, any conviction, no matter how “minor,” will be public record. Moreover, depending on the state, you may be asked to disclose any convictions including misdemeanors.
Fortunately, for the most part, unlike felonies, misdemeanors do not have the same potential to impact employment, admission to school or professional organizations, obtaining housing and immigration status. While a conviction under PC 330 does not necessarily mean there will be on-going consequences beyond the actual sentence.
There are several key elements that a prosecutor must prove in order to gain a conviction under PC 330:
First, that the defendant deals, plays, opens, carries on or conducts any prohibited game. This includes any owner or employee, as well as anyone who plays or bets in any of those games.
Second, PC 330, specifically identifies the following games as prohibited by the statute: “faro, monte, roulette, lansquenet, rouge et noire, rondo, tan, fan-tan, seven-and-a-half, twenty-one, (and) hokey-pokey.”
Additionally, the statute covers any “banking or percentage game” involving cards, dice or any other device. In other words, the statute is targeting gaming which players bet against the “house” (a banking game) or games of chance in which the house receives a percentage of the money wagered (a percentage game).
The term “banking game” has been interpreted by courts to require a “house” or “bank” to be a participant in the game. Also, the house or bank plays against all bettors and is responsible for paying all winners and collects the money from all losers. This definition has been used by courts as early as 1889 when the California Supreme Court held that an appropriate definition of a “banking game” was a game in “which everybody has a right to bet, the bank being responsible for the payment of all the funds, taking all that is won, and paying out all that is lost. The fund which is provided for that purpose is generally called the bank.” People v. Carroll, 80 Cal. 153, 158 (Cal. 1889). Therefore, the prosecutor will argue that the activity was a prohibited banking game, while an experienced criminal defense attorney will argue that no banking game existed. Both sides will argue prior cases, and it will ultimately be up to the judge or jury to decide whether the facts indicate the presence of a banking game.
In 1885, the statute was amended to include percentage games, and it wasn’t until 1987 that a court established that a percentage game under PC 330 includes “any game of chance from which the house collects money calculated as a portion of wagers made or sums won in play, exclusive of charges or fees for use of space and facilities.” Sullivan v. Fox, 189 Cal. App. 3rd 673, 679 (1st Dist. 1987). That definition has remained largely unchanged by courts to this day.
A common defense to PC 330 is there was no gaming or percentage games.
For example, the gaming was a social game only with no proceeds going to the organizer, or a charity event with all proceeds going to a charity (the statute allows for bingo, raffles and poker).
In addition to “failure of proof” defenses, which are based on a lack of evidence, an experienced criminal defense attorney can review the facts of the case for defenses, and most importantly, whether or not your rights were violated. For example, if an illegal search or seizure occurred, your attorney can file a motion to exclude illegally obtained evidence. This is an important, yet complicated process which could successfully lead to charges being dropped if a constitutional violation did occur.
If you or a loved one is being charged with PC 330, Gaming, we invite you to contact us immediately for a free case review. Schedule an appointment to meet with us in person, or feel free to submit an evaluation online and we will get in contact with you ASAP. We can provide a free consultation in our office located in Century City, or by phone. Our experienced and assiduous Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys will be sure to fight until the end to reduce or drop your charges completely.
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Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney who has over 20 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases.
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