Card Counting in Nevada & Other Forms of Cheating

Contrary to popular belief, counting cards is not considered a criminal offense in Nevada.

There are no laws either state or federal that prohibits counting cards or classify it as a criminal offense. However, since casinos are private businesses, they have the right to refuse service to anyone at any time.

If the casinos suspect a guest is card counting in any form, they may ask the patron to leave the casino and not return.

Casinos are allowed to question gamblers if they suspect cheating and can reasonably detain them until law enforcement arrives. The Las Vegas Police investigate cheating at casinos through their financial crimes unit.

If you, or someone you know, is accused of card counting or cheating a casino, it is important to understand the law and your rights. Contacting an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense attorney can help ensure that your legal rights are protected.

At The Defenders, we have extensive experience defending clients in Nevada accused of all types of gambling-related offenses, including card counting. Our attorneys understand how to fight charges related to card counting and maximize clients’ chances of obtaining the best possible outcome.

If you have been accused of card counting in a Las Vegas casino, contact us today for a free consultation. Our experienced attorneys are here to help protect your legal rights and fight for the best possible outcome.

What Is Card Counting?

Card counting is a card game strategy used by players to gain an advantage over the house. It is based on tracking cards that have been played and predicting which ones will be played in the future.

Players use a system to assign each card value, positive or negative, and add them up as they are seen at the table. The higher the count, the better the chances of getting a higher card.

By using this strategy, players can determine when to bet more or less depending on their advantage over the casino.

Other Forms of Cheating That Is Against the Law

Although card counting is not technically illegal at a casino, they may ask you to leave if they suspect you are doing it. It’s important to note that there are still illegal forms of cheating at a casino:

  1. Manipulating gaming devices
  2. Using insider information
  3. Altering a game’s element of chance, a method of selection or criteria that determine the result of a game. The amount or frequency or payment in a game, the value of a wagering instrument, or the value of a wagering credit.

What Happens When a Casino Suspects Cheating

Cheating is illegal in any type of gambling establishment, ranging from a small slot machine area in a store to a large casino on the strip.

The casino takes cheating seriously and will not hesitate to prosecute anyone suspected of doing so, including their own employees. If someone is suspected of cheating, the casino staff will investigate by reviewing surveillance video and questioning the individual.

If there is sufficient proof of cheating, the suspect will be detained until the police arrive to make an arrest.

What Are the Penalties for Cheating

A first offense for cheating at gambling is a category C felony with penalties of

  • 1 to 5 years in Nevada State Prison
  • Restitution
  • Up to a $10,000 fine, at the judge’s discretion

The second or subsequent offense is a category B felony with penalties of:

  • 1 to 6 years in prison
  • Restitution and
  • Up to a $10,000 fine at the judges discretion

Conspiring or attempting to cheat at gambling carries the same legal consequences and penalties as actually committing the crime.

What Are the Defenses Against a Cheating Charge

Your defense team may use one of three common defenses against a charge of cheating a casino, assuming the charge is not related to counting cards:

  1. No cheating occurred: The entire situation could have just been a misunderstanding and no cheating occurred. If your defense lawyer can prove that nothing that occurred was cheating like counting cards is not cheating. The case should be dismissed.
  2. There was fraudulent intent: People may not know the game they are playing and make mistakes in betting or playing. Usually, the dealer will notify the player of their wrongdoing. These mistakes can sometimes change the odds or outcome of the game. Mistakes and accidents are not a crime because there was intent to defraud.
  3. Police Misconduct: If any evidence collected by the police was obtained illegally, without proper cause or warrant. Then your attorney can request a motion to suppress evidence that was obtained illegally and would not be admissible in court. If this was a majority of the evidence against a defendant then the charges should be dropped.

Unlawful Acts Regarding Gaming Equipment

In Nevada, it is illegal to make, sell, distribute, alter or modify gaming equipment and devices outside of the regulations outlined in NRS465.085. Gaming devices are subject to strict regulations similar to alcohol, food, and construction equipment. Even if a gaming device is functioning correctly, it is only legal to use in a casino if it has been made, distributed, sold, or maintained in accordance with state law.

NRS465.085 prohibits altering gaming equipment in a manner that either:

  1. Affects the result of a bet by determining win or loss
  2. Alters the normal criteria of random selection, which affects the operation of a game or which determines the outcome of a game

The important factor is not the type of device, but whether or not it was tampered with to modify the game’s results.

This law also prohibits people from instructing others how to cheat using gaming devices.

If you give instructions on how to cheat and that information is used to break the law, the person giving the advice is just guilty even if they never physically altered the gaming equipment themselves.

Gaming Fraud in Nevada

NRS 465.070 are various actions that are considered unlawful gambling activities in Nevada. These include:

  • Altering or misrepresenting the outcome of a game
  • Insider information that determines the course of play or the outcome of the game
  • Claiming or taking money without having made a wager or claiming an amount greater than the amount won
  • Enticing others to participate in illegal gambling activities
  • Manipulating or tampering with gaming devices to cheat

It is also illegal to offer or give anything of value to influence the outcome of a race or game or to violate any of NRS 465.070 through an agreement with a

  • Player
  • Judge
  • Manager
  • Coach
  • Participant
  • Or other officials

You could be convicted of gaming fraud even if you don’t make any bets. Additionally, assisting someone else in committing gaming fraud carries the same liability. It’s important to note that losing money instead of winning does not exempt the occurrence of gaming fraud. If the casino suspects you of gaming fraud, they can detain you until the police arrive.

Unlawful Dissemination of Racing Information

There is another law associated with cheating in Nevada.

Nevada has a specific fraud statute that makes it illegal to spread insider information about racing with the intent to induce betting or wagering based on the insider information.

This is a category B felony with penalties of:

  • 1 to 6 years in prison and/or $5000 in fines, and
  • Restitution to the casino or gaming establishment

Even though counting cards is not illegal in Nevada, it is a problem for casinos and anyone suspected of card counting will be asked to leave the establishment and never return. But there are many other laws against cheating at a casino or gaming establishments.

These laws have severe penalties with long prison sentences. If you have been charged with cheating a casino you need to hire a defense team experienced with dealing with casino gaming law.

What Can the Defenders Do for You

If you’re facing charges of cheating in gaming, prosecutors have abundant resources to ensure your conviction with the available evidence. The Defenders is an experienced criminal defense firm that is well-versed in the prosecution’s tactics and will do everything to defend against prosecution.

We will use all of our resources to get your cases dismissed or reduce the charges against you.

Our team will:

  • Investigate your case to determine all the facts about the alleged criminal activity
  • Determine if you are being falsely accused or if there is police misconduct in your case
  • Discuss the ins and outs of your case and give you an idea of how your case will play out
  • Go over any legal options you have like plea deals
  • Be there for our clients every step of your criminal case.

If you are facing criminal charges, contact our team today for a free case evaluation.

Practice Areas