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Despite heavy negotiations between existing casino organizations and state lawmakers, Florida does not appear to be close to legalizing sports betting. This does not mean there is no market for gambling, as the opposite is true. Sports betting is as popular as ever, but Florida residents and visitors are forced to place their bets with bookies instead of at racetracks and casinos. Bookmaking is illegal under Florida statute 849.25, and a violation could lead to third-degree felony charges for any person involved in the operation. If a person is convicted once for bookmaking, they would then face second-degree felony charges for a subsequent offense. The bookmaking laws are harsh and judges and prosecutors take these offenses seriously. There is no logical reason why bookmaking should be a felony, but that’s the law right now and if you are charged it is imperative to contact a criminal defense lawyer right away. Benjamin Herbst is a South Florida gambling lawyer who specializes in charges such as bookmaking and operating a gambling house. He is available 7 days a week to offer a free consultation at (954) 543-0305 and has flexible meeting hours at his Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach locations. Contact Benjamin if you have been charged with any gambling related offense in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin or St. Lucie County and start preparing your defense.
Bookmaking is the act of taking or receiving any bet or wager upon the result of a contest. The bets must be taken while engaged in the business of gambling in order to qualify as bookmaking, which means there has to be some level of sophistication. The law does not look to punish two friends betting with each other on a football game or two. Rather, for a person to be prosecuted for bookmaking the state must provide evidence that the defendant either took more than 5 wagers in a single day, took more than $500 in bets per day or $1,500 per week or engaged in a common scheme with two or more persons to take or receive wagers. The state can also show the defendant used odds to produce profits, hedged bets with other bookmakers or provide any other evidence that shows a degree of organization and sophistication in order to prove a case for bookmaking.
Benjamin defends clients charged with all gambling related offenses including casino trespass, casino theft and operating a house for gambling. The penalties for trespassing at a casino and theft from a casino are the same as the standard penalties, but casino security officers are typically more involved in the cases then other civilian witnesses. This translates to increased pressure on the prosecutors to push for harsher penalties. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will be able to fight back and argue for a dismissal regardless of any outside pressure from casino staff, or other civilian witnesses. Anyone charged with operating a gambling house faces second-degree misdemeanor charges that could include a short stint in jail, a permanent criminal conviction and forfeiture of money and property. If you have been charged with gambling in any Florida jurisdiction contact criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Herbst immediately at (954) 543-0305 for a free consultation. Benjamin continues to fight for his clients until the best outcome is achieved, and he never backs down from going to trial if that is the best decision. He provides all clients with his cell phone number and is always available to answer questions or to provide legal counseling on nights and weekends.