Counting cards is a legal activity. There are no federal or state laws stating that card counters are committing an offense. Police officers cannot arrest you for counting cards at a casino, nor can they convict you of any crimes. Before you hit the Las Vegas Strip and try your hand at counting cards, however, realize there are several ways that card counting can land you in jail.
Ways You Can Be Arrested for Counting Cards
The most common ways to be arrested for counting cards in Las Vegas include:
While the police cannot detain you for the act of counting cards, they can make an arrest on the grounds of trespassing. Casinos are technically private property, and casino patrons must respect house rules. Many casinos have high-tech cameras and security measures in place to detect and prevent card counting since this act takes money the casino could otherwise win. If a security guard believes a patron is counting cards, the guard can ask a patron to leave the table, stop playing that particular game, or leave the casino.
Most casinos ask card counters to leave the property once discovered. Casino security guards may hassle you into leaving the table, ask you to back off a game for a time, or bar you from the casino entirely. If a casino bars you, you may not return. If you return anyway, you can face trespass charges.
Using Electronics or Machines to Count Cards
While the law does not say anything about restricting the use of intellectual means to count cards, it does have a provision against using electronic and mechanical means. This type of card counting constitutes cheating since you are gaining an unfair edge over the other players at the table. It is your prerogative to use your brain to count cards as a natural advantage, but once you use other means, the police can arrest you.
This brings us to cheating by non-mechanical/electrical means during a card game. In Nevada, gambling control authorities prohibit cheating in casinos. Cheating during a card game is an arrestable offense. Using your intellect to count cards can help you win but does not change the game, and is therefore not technically considered cheating. If you cheat, altering the outcome of the game by switching cards with other players or adding cards to the deck, a casino can arrest you.
Physically Assaulting Casino Employees
If a casino employee admonishes or detains you for counting cards, you will probably be angry, frustrated, or embarrassed. Odds are, you have been drinking, and now the casino has barred you from playing your favorite game of the night. Many people accused of counting cards make the mistake of pushing or touching security guards or other casino employees. The casino can then have you arrested on the grounds of physical assault or harassment.
If you are arrested for physically assaulting a casino employee, such as a pit boss or security guard, this will likely result in penalties. These penalties could include jail time and/or fines, according to Nevada assault and battery laws (NRS 200.471).
Casinos do not need a reason to ask you to leave. They can ask any patron to leave at any time, for any reason or no reason at all. If you refuse to leave and begin acting belligerent, aggressive, or just plain rude, casinos can have you arrested for disorderly conduct. If you are asked to leave, the best thing to do is to apologize, leave the casino, and lay low for a while. If the casino took your picture while detaining you, they will have your face on file and will share it with sister casinos.
Possible Penalties and Charges for Counting Cards
In most cases, casinos will just ban players from the property. If the casino catches you counting cards once, they typically ban you from ever playing there again. If they catch you counting cards more than once, they will probably press charges against you for fraud or cheating.
The other option casinos have is to call law enforcement when they catch someone counting cards, so a police officer can arrest them. They will also likely ban them from entering the casino in the future.
If law enforcement gets involved, the card counter could be charged with felony fraud, which could land them in prison with hefty fines. In Las Vegas, a judge determines the type of charge. A misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine, while a gross misdemeanor offense can result in one year of imprisonment and a $2,000 fine.
How a Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
If you are arrested for card counting in Las Vegas, it’s important to know that you have rights.
A criminal defense lawyer can help you navigate the legal system and protect these rights. To do this, they will carefully study the evidence against you to determine your possible defenses. For example, if there were mistakes made during the investigation or arrest, your lawyer can raise them with the prosecutor or judge. In some cases, the charges against you may be dismissed altogether.
Your criminal defense lawyer can also negotiate an agreement with the prosecutor that results in a reduced sentence or jail term.
Contact a Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you need a criminal defense lawyer in Las Vegas because of charges related to card counting, De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers are here for you. Our team could defend you if you were arrested for false ID, assault, battery, theft, disorderly conduct, trespassing, and more.
To get started, contact us today for a free consultation.