A person commits the offense of gambling when he or she makes a bet on the result of a game or contest or on the performance of a participant in the game or contest; when he or she makes a bet on the result of a political nomination, appointment, or election, or on the success of any political nominee, candidate, or appointee; or when he or she plays and bets for money or for any item of value on any game that is played with cards, dice, balls, or other gambling devices.
The word “bet” is defined as an agreement to win or lose something of value on account of chance. The word “bet” does not include a contract of indemnity or guaranty; an insurance policy; a prize, award, or compensation in a contest involving skill, speed, or strength; or an offer of merchandise at a carnival that is sponsored by nonprofit religious, fraternal, educational, or civic groups.
The words “any item of value” are defined as any benefit that is exchangeable for value. A free game or a right to replay a game does not constitute an item of value.
An indictment or an information charging a defendant with the offense of gambling must state the manner in which the defendant made a bet. In other words, the indictment or the information must state whether the defendant made the bet in person, over the telephone, through the mail, or through another person. The indictment or the information should state the name of the person with whom the bet was made. The indictment or the information must state the defendant’s intent, knowledge, or recklessness. When the indictment or the information charges the defendant with making a bet on any game that is played with cards, dice, balls, or other gambling devices, the indictment or the information must state that the defendant was also playing in the game.
A defendant who is charged with the offense of gambling may claim as a defense that he or she was gambling in a private place, that no one received any economic benefits other than personal winnings, or that the risks of losing and the chances of winning were the same for all the participants. A private place is defined as a place to which the public does not have access. A private place does not include streets, highways, restaurants, bars, schools, or shops. Even though a place may be open to the public, there may be portions of the place that may be deemed private. The issue in this regard is whether the public would have access to the place for purposes of gambling.
A defendant who is charged with the offense of gambling may also claim as a defense that he or she reasonably believed that his or her conduct was authorized under laws that permit bingo, racing, raffles, or lotteries.
The offense of gambling is normally punished as a misdemeanor.