Is it illegal to count cards?

| Mar 9, 2020 | Casino Crimes

Counting cards is something that blackjack players do to give them an edge. They understand what cards have been played and what ones must still be in the deck. This doesn’t tell them exactly what the next card is, but it gives them probabilities that they can use to decide when to bet.

You’ve probably heard that casinos do not like this. Maybe you’ve been told that they’ll ban you if they catch you counting. But, to you, it feels like it’s just a form of gambling skill. How can it be illegal?

It’s not. The casinos are against it because it gives you, the player, that edge. But it’s not illegal in Atlantic City and the New Jersey Supreme Court has actually ruled that casinos cannot legally discriminate against a player because he or she can count cards, even if they determine that that is what the player is doing. They certainly cannot discriminate just because they believe someone is counting cards.

In short, the court just agreed with the note above: that counting cards is a skill. Casinos cannot ban skilled players and being skilled is certainly not illegal. They can’t throw you out, as you often see in the movies, as that would be discrimination.

There is one way that it is illegal, though: if you use some sort of device to count cards. If you can do it in your head, that’s fine. If you get assistance from someone else or from an electronic device, that’s illegal. That could lead to serious charges, and you need to know what legal options you have.