Betting on horse races, football, basketball, baseball and other sports contests is illegal in New Jersey; so are unregulated lotteries and other gambling games except in an area (such as Atlantic City) that is specifically designated by the legislature for legal gambling. “Social gambling” is legal in New Jersey if no individual makes or earns any sum of money other than as a player in the game (that is, the host cannot take a cut). Charitable, educational and volunteer organizations may conduct games of chance such as bingo, lotto or 50-50 under special circumstances.
Gambling is defined in the New Jersey Constitution as “risking something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under the actor’s control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.” Penalties for illegal gambling in the state vary according to the type and severity of the infraction.
A person is guilty of promoting illegal gambling in New Jersey when he establishes a game, contest or scheme that maintains a premises or paraphernalia intended to allow people to participate in activities designated as illegal gambling according to New Jersey state laws. Promoting gambling, or taking fewer than three or more bets in a two-week period, is a disorderly persons offense that is subject to a fine of not more than $10,000.
Bookmaking is illegal in New Jersey; it is against the law to place bets and take a percentage of the action. A “bookie” or anyone who engages in bookmaking and receives more than five bets in a single day totaling more than $1,000 or receives more than $100 in one day from a lottery scheme is guilty of a third-degree criminal offense and subject to a fine of no more than $35,000 and one to five years in prison.
Someone who engages in bookmaking and receives three or more bets in a two-week period can be charged with a fourth-degree criminal offense punishable by a fine of no more than $25,000 and a maximum of 18 months in prison.
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