Underage Gambling Charges in New Jersey

A charge for underage gambling in New Jersey can have serious and lasting consequences. If convicted, this will lead to a permanent charge on your record which will appear on background checks conducted by educational institutions and potential employers. This can have a significant negative impact on a young person and their future.  A criminal charge for underage gambling in New Jersey is governed by N.J.S.A. 5:12-119 which provides in pertinent part:

N.J. Stat. § 5:12-119 (2010) Gaming by certain persons prohibited; penalties; defenses
a. No person under the age at which a person is authorized to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages shall enter, or wager in, a licensed casino or simulcasting facility; provided, however, that such a person may enter a casino or simulcasting facility by way of passage to another room, and provided further, however, that any such person who is licensed or registered under the provisions of the “Casino Control Act,” P.L. 1977, c. 110, may enter a casino or simulcasting facility in the regular course of the person’s permitted activities.

Any person who violates this subsection shall be guilty of a disorderly persons offense and shall be fined not less than $ 500 and not more than $ 1,000. In addition, the court shall suspend or postpone the person’s license to operate a motor vehicle for six months.

Unfortunately, the Atlantic City Municipal Court and the Atlantic City Municipal Prosecutor have a “ban” on plea bargaining a criminal charge for underage gambling in Atlantic City. As a result, as a defendant, you have two options. The first option is to plead guilty with the minimum penalties and the second option is to take the case to trial. The minimum penalties include a $500.00 fine and a six month suspension of your driving privileges in New Jersey. To prove a violation of this statute, the State must only show that an individual under the legal age to drink (21) was present on the casino floor, provided that the individual is not merely “passing through” such as traveling through the casino to reach the hotel lobby.

It is imperative that you have an experienced criminal defense lawyer represent you at trial. The State typically produces evidence, including a narrative report of the incident and video footage of the alleged crime, which must be reviewed and entered into evidence at trial. Moreover, the State must call the security officers to the stand to testify as to their observations and actions. If the State’s witnesses fail to appear for trial, we may be able to get the charges dismissed altogether.

If you or a loved one has been charged with underage gambling in New Jersey, contact my law firm for immediate assistance at (732)450-8300. The initial consultation is always provided free of charge.