How are dogtracks and horsetracks legal in the US

Gambling is banned in all but 2 states in the US, so how are horsetracks and dogtracks legal? How is bingo legal?

Also, in Japan gambling is illegal, but they have a way around it. Instead of gambling for money, you gamble for little ball bearings (the same way you gamble for tokens in the US). You then trade these ball bearings in for prizes at the exchange desk (the same way that in an arcade you play games for tickets and trade the tickets in for prizes). Some of these prizes are little boxes of different colors. Then you go to a company down the street from the gambling hall and sell them the prizes for money with a prize worth X amount of bearings being worth Y amount of Yen. Why isn’t there any of this flimflam in the US? This seems like a legal way to get around gambling laws, to gamble over prizes and tokens instead of money, then to have an independent shop down the street exchange the prizes and tokens for money.

Because the gambling laws specify which forms of gambling are legal and which are not. The law might say slot machines are illegal, but say nothing about Bingo.

Much of the distinction is historical. Bingo was used by churches to raise money, so the politicians were not going to cut of that source and lose votes (in addition, the fact that it is often being run by a chuch makes the “immoral” argument much weaker).

Horse racing is legal primarily because the wagering is Parimutuel. The older version of horse race betting – with bookies laying odds and making book on the race – was pretty much banned. Parimutuel wagering doesn’t involve a bookie – the money is put into a big pot, the track and state take their cut, and the rest of the money is paid to the winners. The fact that the state takes a cut of any wager probably helped.

Something like this exists in arcades – you can win tickets at Skee Ball and the like and trade them in for prizes. I believe, though, they are used only for games of skill. Skee Ball does require some skill to win, which makes them safe from gambling laws. Pinball can give you free games, but that’s a game of skill also.

If you set up roulette or slots using this dodge, I’m pretty sure it’d be shut down. The laws are usually written so that any winnings of value count as gambling winnings.

I don’t believe this is true, inw two senses. First, I can play poker with my friends or bet a friend on the outcome of a sporting event. That is not illegal. What is illegal is when someone takes a cut out of the money wagered, or when the odds are not the same for everyone involved.

Execpt, of course, it’s not illegal, its simply illegal without the proper permission. The folks in Vegas and Atlantic city have gaming licenses. Bingo and raffles are legal in many states if they are conducted by registered non-profit organizations.

Is there any state in the Unietd States that does not hav casinos? Are there still states without a lottery? What about parimutel betting on horse/dog racing?

Hawaii and Utah are the two states without a lottery I believe. And they have no horse or dog racing either.

The people of Hawaii make up for the lack of a lottery by systematically relocating to Las Vegas every few months.

Check out the travel section of the Honolulu Advertiser (Hawaii’s largest paper)

At least one answer is that the two aren’t necessarily related. The town where I grew up had a horsetrack with racing every weekend in the summer. There was no gambling[sup]*[/sup]. They charged an entry fee, so it was essentially entertainment. I think winning had considerable benefit for the horse breeders and trainers involved, but no direct payout.

[sup]*[/sup] well of course there was gambling - put two Texans in a room and they’ll bet on whether or not the sun is up. The crowd placed bets with one another under the table, but there was no organized betting and no one taking a cut.

Ok, gambling is not totally banned in all but 2 states. Many states have lotteries, many states have casinos. Kentucky has lottery, bingo, horseracing. Tennessee only has a lottery.

Basically, while some gambling is banned, not all gambling is. Except Utah and Hawaii.

Nope. That’s illegal in every state that I’m aware of.

This is true.

Yup. May even be a majority, still.

Sports betting is legal in two states: Nevada, through casino sports books, and Oregon, through a state lottery game called Sports Action.

Thirteen states currently have no casinos.

Forty states currently have lotteries.

Thirty-five currently have horse racing.

Fifteen have greyhound tracks.

I didn’t say otherwise, did I? I pointed out that it was not legal for private individuals to wager on sports, or play poker for money, contrary to Anson’s claim

You refer to casino gambling and a state lottery, neither of which involve private individuals gambling on their own. Not relavent to the point in question.

Virginia does not have casino gambling.

It does have pari-mutuel wagering on horseracing. I supervised the review and inspection process for the only horse racing track in the Commonwealth (Colonial Downs).

Oops. I forgot to add this -

Pari-mutuel gambling is legal in VA because the State legislature passed a law saying it was legal and creating the Racing Commission to oversee the practice.

It is perfectly legal to play poker for money in many places, as long as the game is not run by an operator and it is in a private home.

Virginia’s law, for instance, allows card games thusly:

This would explicitly allow gambling at a card party or a Super Bowl party.

Care to provide a cite for that?

And which two states are you talking about?

I can think of a lot of states where gambling is allowed. And I’m not talking about lotteries and bingo. It’s obviously legal in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. There are poker rooms in California. We have casinos with machines and live poker in Montana. As far as I know, private poker games (no house cut) are allowed around most of the country, and many private clubs have perfectly legal games.

A while back some friends and I would get together in my garage and play nickel-dime poker. If there was a particularly big pot, somewould would count the chips and stop the better before it got to $10, because this supposedly this was the threshold between legal and illegal. I believe that this was in Florida, but may have been in Kentucky.

Random, are you saying that this was illegal, or only that would only have been illegal had a pot gotten over whatever threshold the locality had established?

This was in a private house and there was no rake, FWIW.

I was thinking of Atlantic City and Vegas as the only places with legal casino gambling (which may not be true anymore), but it turns out that 48 states allow some form of gambling.


Random, are you saying that this was illegal, or only that would only have been illegal had a pot gotten over whatever threshold the locality had established?


I’ve learned something. I was unaware of any state that allowed home poker games. My state (Illinois) does not. Apparently (per Mr. Moto, Virginia does, and you seem to be aware of at least one other.

(Nothing in this post is reliable legal advice. See a lawyer licensed in your state for that.)

Not sure if you’re refering to the first part of my sentence or the second. But both are legal in New York, where I live. I am not a lwayer, but my reading on the subject leads me to believe that many (if not most) states do not criminalize social gambling.

In New York state it is not illegal to be a player. What is illegal is to profit from gambling activity (“other than as a player”) – see NY Consolidated Laws Sec 225.00.

So you can play poker (or other games of skill), but the house can’t take a cut. The case law is People v. Melton, 578 N.Y.S.2d 377, 152 Misc.2d 649 (N.Y.Sup., 1991).

There is currently a case pending in Rochester (People vs. Corleto) that will help settle the murky issue of whether a poker club is legal if the house does not take a cut of each pot (in this case, they charged a flat entrance fee).

This website contains the text of federal and state laws on gambling.

Thanks for the useful links. I read the statute and Melton. I agree that a guest at a normal home poker game does not appear to breaking New York law. But the host has to be careful. Melton does not address this issue. (It dealt with a dice game on the street, so there was no host.)

The statute:

So a rake, admission charge, or any other fee collected by the host leaves him open to liability, even for a home, social game.

I’m not a New York lawyer. I’m not your lawyer. I’m discussing general information, and this is not meant to be reliable legal advice. See a lawyer licensed in the state for that.

I didn’t mention that detail because it leads to a complicating issue… the NY Statutes make speccific mention of “public gambling,” which appear to be aimed at combating not just dice games but there card monte and other cons. The loitering law conains a provision about loitering for gambling, and that’s frequently prosecuted.

The overriding issue in most jurisdictions is the difference between games of skill and games of chance. Golf is a game of skill, and that’s why a course can charge a fee for each player, and hold a tournament that awrads a prize to the winner. Some states have hold that poker is game of skill, some say that it is a game of chance, and some (including NY) have no legislation or case law.

Standard IANAL disclaimers apply.