In 2011, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law new legislation on gambling in Massachusetts. The law focuses mostly on using casino revenues to benefit the state, but it also creates criminal penalties for certain gambling crimes.
What is this law? How can a person face criminal gambling charges in Massachusetts? If I am charged with a gambling crime what should I do?
What is the Expanded Gaming Act?
The purpose of passing a new gambling law in Massachusetts was to create new jobs and economically develop communities. Supporters of the bill said incentivizing developers to apply for gaming licenses and to build new casinos would add thousands of new jobs and generate between $300 and $500 million in new revenue for Massachusetts.
The law on the books is called the Expanded Gaming Act. In addition to encouraging economic development the legislation also creates several gambling crimes. These include, in addition to others:
- Impeding a gaming investigation
- Cheating and swindling a licensed gaming establishment
- Gambling for a person under 21 years old
- Selling a gambling device to defraud someone else
- Operating a gambling establishment without a proper license
If I’m charged with a gambling crime what are my defenses?
Most gambling crimes require criminal intent. This means in order to be convicted the person must have had a criminal state-of-mind when they did the act that was forbidden by the law. In other words, a person who accidentally (unintentionally) commits a gambling crime that requires criminal intent cannot be convicted.
For example, if a person is charged with cheating and swindling the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused person intentionally cheated. Imagine a person is playing Blackjack at a casino. They aren’t familiar enough with the rules of the game to understand that once their bet is in play they cannot withdraw it. Imagine halfway through a game a person picks up their chip and leaves the table, thinking the rules allowed them to do this. Have they cheated? Can they be punished? Under the Massachusetts law on cheating and swindling the answer is no. There was no criminal intent. The person didn’t walk away with their bet on purpose. They made a mistake. They didn’t have the criminal state of mind to be guilty.
A good lawyer will present evidence to the court that their client did not have the criminal intent to commit the crime charged. For a person accused of cheating and swindling this could include evidence that they were a first-time gambler and didn’t understand the rules of Blackjack. This also might include evidence that the person misheard the dealer and thought it was okay to leave with their chip.
What do I do if a casino employee accuses of me of cheating?
If you are approached by a casino employee or police officer while at a casino and are accused of cheating or breaking a game rule usually the best thing to do is to stay calm. If they detain you or start to ask you questions respectfully tell them you would like to speak to your attorney.
If you are arrested or you receive a criminal summons contact your criminal defense attorney right away for legal advice.
IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH A GAMBLING CRIME, AND YOU NEED AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER WORKING ON YOUR SIDE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS, PLEASE CONTACT CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY WILLIAM J. BARABINO.
CALL 781-393-5900 TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR AVAILABLE DEFENSES.