Can You Go To Jail if You Use a Blackjack Card Counting Device?

November 24, 2013 Posted in FAQs by No Comments

Here’s another common question that gets sent in by readers. I don’t think I have answered this one in particular, so now seems like a good time to do so. Apparently, people want to know if they can get a little help using card counting devices (such as smartphones or other contraptions) while playing blackjack at a brick-and-mortar casino.

For the most part, the answer is yes. And this goes for every casino game, not just blackjack.

It is not a good idea to visit a physical casino anywhere in the world and use any type of device to help you make decisions, track cards or communicate with your friends. The laws exact laws may vary around the world, but no casino anywhere takes kindly to players using devices to gain an advantage.

Note: I am not a lawyer so don’t consider this to be professional legal advice. If you want firm answers for your jurisdiction, you need to contact a real lawyer. I like to think I’m a pretty smart guy but the word of some guy on the internet doesn’t hold much weight in court.

The United States

Here is an excerpt from Nevada’s gambling law:

NRS 465.075 Use or possession of device to obtain advantage at playing game in licensed gaming establishment.

1. It is unlawful for any person to use, possess with the intent to use or assist another person in using or possessing with the intent to use any computerized, electronic, electrical or mechanical device which is designed, constructed, altered or programmed to obtain an advantage at playing any game in a licensed gaming establishment, including, without limitation, a device that:

     (a) Projects the outcome of the game;

     (b) Keeps track of cards played or cards prepared for play;

     (c) Analyzes the probability of the occurrence of an event relating to a game; or

     (d) Analyzes the strategy for playing or betting to be used in the game,

     (e) Except as may be made available as part of an approved game or otherwise permitted by the Commission.

2. As used in this section, “advantage” means a benefit obtained by one or more participants in a game through information or knowledge that is not made available as part of the game as approved by the Board or Commission.

Mississippi, New Jersey and California have similar laws regarding gambling devices. This also goes for smartphones! Don’t try to pull a fast one past the casino by installing a card counting app on your iPhone. Between security surveillance and your betting patterns, the casino will figure this old trick out quickly.

In short, you should not use a gambling device of any sort to help you play better. The only machine you can use is your mind. Train your mind and it can be just as impressive as any other gambling device. Seriously, casinos have seen it all. Don’t try to sneak in with something in your shoe or sewn to the inside of your pants. Technology and experience gives casino operators the advantage.

The UK

The UK has more liberal laws that allow you to use devices that help you calculate the odds and process freely available information. But again, you’ll need to check with a lawyer. I couldn’t find an exact text of UK gambling law and this is all according to research I did on Google.

For example, this Guardian article from 2006 talks about a guy who publicly sells digital time recorders for use at roulette tables. The article goes on to explain that UK gambling commission refuses to ban these digital time trackers and that casinos have to police themselves. So it looks like you can get thrown out of a gambling club in the UK, but you won’t go to jail. I think.

Rest of the World

The laws vary around the rest of the world so you’ll have to do your own research there. But one thing I can tell you is that it’s probably not a good idea to take gambling devices with you into most brick and mortar casinos.

You should be especially wary in third world countries where the law can change on a whim. And be very, very careful in small, unregulated casinos in third world countries. Some of these casinos are operated by scary people. Get caught with a card counting device in one of those casinos and jail will be the least of your worries.

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