People visit Nevada casinos to try their luck of winning money and have fun. However, other people come to these places to commit gaming fraud, which resembles what is known on the stock market as "insider trading." Gaming fraud entails using information unavailable to the conscious public to reap financial benefits.
Considering how critical gaming is to the state's economy, prosecutors aggressively prosecute people suspected of fraud. A conviction can result in harsh penalties, including a lengthy prison sentence and hefty fines. Retaining a criminal attorney can assist you in having the charge reduced or dismissed altogether.
At The Law Offices of Martin Hart, our criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience defending clients against all financial and white-collar crimes, including gaming fraud. If you have been charged in Las Vegas, contact us, and we will fight to ensure you achieve the best possible outcome. We will thoroughly review your case before establishing the best strategy to achieve favorable results based on the case facts.
Gaming Fraud Overview
Through the years, gaming institutions have lost significant amounts of money because of cheating and fraud. Even though these institutions have invested in tight security, no gaming system is 100 percent flawless. Nevada lawmakers enacted laws that allowed the penalization of those seeking to defraud the gaming industry to deter gaming fraud and ensure public confidence in gaming.
The Nevada State Law's Chapter 465 refers to offenses perpetrated in gaming institutions, for example, a casino, wagering site, or race track. Described under Chapter 465 are fraudulent acts, cheating, possession or use of devices, software, or hardware that can assist a person in gaining an advantage during gaming.
How Players Try To Beat The System
Some players utilize fraudulent means to prevail in machine games such as slots and games such as blackjack. Players who commit these offenses (and are ultimately discovered) manage to win tens of thousands or even millions of dollars from casinos. They use various methods, including:
- A combination of sleight of hand and late-betting.
- Discoverivering glitches in gaming machine systems and utilizing them to play the same winning hand repeatedly.
- Forging slot machine coins.
- Developing software that tampers with gaming devices.
- Extreme card counting (some describe this as frowned upon but not necessarily unlawful).
- Making homemade devices to trick slot machines into spitting out coins.
Specifically, per NRS (Nevada Revised Statute) 465.070, it is illegal for any person to engage in gaming fraud activities. This law sets down various actions considered gaming fraud activities in Nevada. They include the following:
- Changing or altering the results of a game played on an interactive gaming system or how the results are reported to the participants in the game.
- Tampering with or manipulating gaming machines to cheat. Per Nevada Revised Statute 465.070, committing fraud by manipulating gaming machines is an offense. If you consciously interfere with a gaming device intending to defraud, you are criminally liable for gaming fraud. Note that you are guilty whether or not you have the opportunity to apply your knowledge in playing the game. Merely tampering intending to defraud can lead to you being convicted of fraud under Nevada law.
- Reducing the wagered amount or canceling a bet after knowing about the game results or an event that is the subject of the bet, including pinching bets.
- Increasing or placing a bet after knowing about the game results or an event that is the subject of the bet, including pressing and past-posting bets.
- Knowingly inducing or enticing other people to visit places where there is gaming, in violation of the law, intending for the people to engage in unlawful gaming activities.
- Taking, collecting, claiming, or trying to take, collect, take, or claim cash or any valuable thing from or in a gambling game intending to defraud without making a wager based thereon or claiming, collecting, or taking an amount more than what you won.
- Placing, increasing, or decreasing a bet, or establishing the direction of play or placing a bet after obtaining knowledge, unavailable to any player, of the results of the game or an event that impacts the game results or which is the subject of the bet or to help anyone acquire that knowledge for purposes of decreasing, increasing, or placing a bet or establishing the direction of play based on that outcome or event (insider information).
- Misrepresenting or altering game results or the results of an event on which wagers have been made after the results are made sure but before they are disclosed to players.
Additionally, it is against the law to give or offer any valuable item to influence a game or race outcome or to break any Nevada Revised Statute 465.070 provision through a deal with a participant, player, referee, judge, coach, manager, or any other official.
Remember, the judge can convict you of gaming fraud whether or not you are the person who physically made a bet. Simply assisting someone else in perpetrating fraud will also subject you to criminal liability.
Also, remember that your arrest or conviction is not based on whether you made money after placing your bet. That means it does not matter if you eventually lose or gain money from depending on insider information. Merely using the information prompts criminal prosecution, the outcome notwithstanding, and will lead to the authorities filing criminal charges against you.
Lastly, remember that casino security can detain a gaming fraud suspect and place them under a citizen's arrest until law enforcement arrives. Las Vegas Metro's Financial Crimes Unit may eventually investigate the case.
It is obvious what those who engage in gaming fraud intend to achieve — beat their opponents/the house and gain the upper hand or advantage. Generally, a person gains the upper hand by acquiring and using insider information. For example, if a player is friends with the dealer at their favorite gaming institution and the dealer directly tells them or somehow suggests to them information concerning the deck, and the player uses that info to place a significant bet, both the player and dealer are criminally liable for gaming fraud and will be subject to criminal prosecution.
Fighting Gaming Fraud Charges
If you have been accused of gaming fraud, one of the first things you should do is call a casino fraud lawyer immediately. When defending against gaming fraud accusations, defense lawyers apply many potential strategies to poke holes in the DA's case, weakening it. They will use various ways to challenge the prosecutor's case or seek to suppress it. Common defense strategies your lawyer can argue based on the facts of your case include the following:
It could be that someone accused you falsely out of revenge, anger, or a true misunderstanding. Your lawyer would look into the accuser's motive and challenge their credibility to prove the allegations are untrue.
It Was Not Fraud
Perhaps the police assumed you were engaging in fraudulent activity when, in the real sense, you were merely being a lucky or savvy gambler. If your lawyer can prove your conduct is not categorized as fraud, the district attorney should drop the entire case.
Illegal Search and Search
Law enforcement officers may have performed an illegal search and seizure when investigating gaming fraud. In that case, your lawyer would file a motion to suppress evidence, requesting that the court excludes from the case any evidence obtained as a result of unlawful law enforcement actions. Should the court decide that the law enforcement actions were indeed illegal and comply with your lawyer's request, the prosecution may agree to drop the entire case.
Whatever the case, a judge should not convict you of gaming fraud unless they find you criminally liable beyond any reasonable doubt. Therefore, the judge should not hold you criminally responsible if the prosecutor's evidence contains many inadequacies or inconsistencies.
For the judge to convict you of gaming fraud, the prosecution must prove you are criminally liable for the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus, if the charges against you consist only of circumstantial evidence, the evidence is generally inadequate, or there are several inconsistencies, the prosecution should drop them.
Gaming Fraud Penalties
If it is your first time violating Nevada Revised Statute 465.070, you will face category C felony charges. A conviction is punishable by a prison sentence of between one and five years, a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars, and restitution.
A second or subsequent violation is charged as a category B felony. A conviction is punishable by a prison sentence of between one and six years, restitution, and a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars.
Remember that if you are found criminally liable for conspiring or attempting to commit gaming fraud, you will face the same penalties as though the crime were a complete violation. In that case, you will face class C felony charges punishable by a prison term of between one and five years, restitution, and a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars.
Crimes Related to Gaming Fraud
Various crimes are related to gaming fraud and are therefore charged instead of or alongside it. These crimes include:
Illegally Disseminating Racing Info
Nevada has a distinct fraud law (NRS 465.090) that criminalizes spreading insider information about racing with the intent to induce wagering or betting depending on the information. This crime is also charged as a category B felony. A conviction is punishable by a prison term ranging between one and six years, restitution to the gaming or casino establishment, a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, and restitution.
Possessing or Using Device, Hardware or Software to Obtain Advantage at Playing Game
Nevada Revised Statute 465.075 criminalizes the possession or use of devices, hardware, or software that help you obtain an advantage at playing games. Examples include devices that do the following:
- Analyze the strategy for betting or playing to be utilized during the game.
- Analyze the likelihood of the happening of an incident related to the game.
- Keep track of cards prepared for play or cards played during the game.
- Project a game's outcome.
This law excludes devices available as part of an approved game or otherwise allowed by the Commission.
Violating NRS 465.075 is charged as a category B felony. If convicted, you will be subject to a prison term of between one and six years and a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars. Additionally, the immigration department may find this crime enough reason for deportation if you are an immigrant.
You will face category B felony charges if you conspire or attempt to bend this gaming statute, whether or not you personally played a gambling game or utilized any prohibited device. This means that even scheming to cheat may subject you to a prison sentence of up to six years.
Sealing Gaming Fraud Criminal Record
Nevada law allows defendants to seal their gaming fraud criminal records. If your charges are dismissed or the court finds you not guilty, you can file for record sealing immediately. But there is a waiting period if you are convicted. In this case, you can request record sealing five years after the case is officially closed.
The criminal record sealing process itself takes several weeks to complete. However, it is worth it. If not sealed, a gaming fraud conviction would appear on background checks, preventing you from securing employment, renting an apartment, enrolling in college, or obtaining a loan.
Unlike record expungement (a relief not offered under Nevada law), sealing will not physically destroy a criminal record. Rather, it makes the criminal record invisible.
Find an Experienced Gaming Fraud Attorney Near Me
If you have been accused of gaming fraud, do not waste any more time and call a lawyer for help. Expert legal representation can be the difference between facing harsh penalties and having your charges dropped entirely. At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, we offer skilled legal representation for people charged in Las Vegas. We boast in-depth knowledge of gaming fraud laws and understand how local judges and prosecutors treat gaming fraud charges. Call us at 702-380-4278 to learn more about how we can help you.