NRS § 465.085 is the Nevada law that prohibits the unlawful manufacture, sale, distribution, marking, altering or modification of equipment and devices associated with gaming. This statute states that:
1. It is unlawful to manufacture, sell or distribute any cards, chips, dice, game or device which is intended to be used to violate any provision of this chapter.
2. It is unlawful to mark, alter or otherwise modify any associated equipment or gaming device, as defined in chapter 463 of NRS, in a manner that:
(a) Affects the result of a wager by determining win or loss; or
(b) Alters the normal criteria of random selection, which affects the operation of a game or which determines the outcome of a game.
3. It is unlawful for any person to instruct another in cheating or in the use of any device for that purpose, with the knowledge or intent that the information or use so conveyed may be employed to violate any provision of this chapter.
Violating NRS 465.085 is a felony. But a defense attorney may be able to negotiate a significant charge reduction or a dismissal through a plea bargain. Potential defense strategies include:
- the defendant lacked knowledge that his/her instructions on how to cheat would be used to break the law;
- the defendant’s legal actions were misconstrued as illegal by police; or
- the police found its evidence through an unlawful search and seizure
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss illegal actions regarding Nevada gambling devices. Click on a topic below to jump to that section:
- 1. Definition
- 2. Penalties
- 3. Defenses
- 4. Immigration consequences
- 5. Sealing records
- 6. Related offenses
NRS 465.085 prohibits the manufacture, sale, distribution, or modification of any gaming equipment outside the bounds of Nevada law. Just like food, beverages, and construction materials, gambling devices are strictly regulated. Even devices that work correctly are unlawful if they are not made, distributed, sold, or maintained in accordance with state law.
NRS 465.085 also prohibits altering gambling equipment in a manner that either:
- affects the result of a bet by determining win or loss; or
- alters the normal criteria of random selection, which affects the operation of a game or which determines the outcome of a game
And it makes no difference if the gambling devices are complex like a slot machine or simple like playing cards or chips:
Example: Sarah works as a maid at the Mirage. One evening she takes some dice from the craps table and shaves the corners so that they land on sixes more often than any other number. Sarah’s actions are caught on surveillance video, and she is arrested for altering a gaming device.
In the above example, it does not matter that Sarah was caught before she could return the dice to the craps table or that no one won money from the dice. Merely her act of altering the dice is sufficient to invite prosecution.
Finally, NRS 465.085 prohibits people from instructing others how to cheat using gaming devices “with the knowledge or intent” that the information may be used to break the law. It makes no difference if the people giving instruction never physically altered the gambling equipment themselves.1
A first-time violation of NRS 465.085 is a category C felony, carrying:
- one to five (1 – 5) years in prison, and
- $10,000 in fines (at the judge’s discretion)
A second or subsequent conviction is a category B felony, carrying:
- one to six (1 – 6) years in prison, and
- up to $10,000 in fines (at the judge’s discretion)
Also note that any attempt or a conspiracy to violate NRS 465.085 is also punished as a category C felony. It is irrelevant whether the defendant personally played any gambling game or used any prohibited device. The penalty is:
- one to five (1 – 5) years in prison, and
- $10,000 in fines (at the judge’s discretion)2
Considering Las Vegas is a gambling mecca, it is not surprising Nevada law levies such harsh punishments for interfering with gaming equipment. However, it is always possible that prosecutors may be willing to lessen or drop the charges following a negotiation with the defense attorney.
Since NRS 465.085 is such a broad law, the best defense strategies are specific to the unique circumstances of each case. Some common arguments to fight charges include:
- the defendant lacked knowledge,
- the defendant’s actions were legal, or
- the police committed an illegal search
3.1. The defendant lacked knowledge
NRS 465.085 prohibits people from instructing others how to cheat using gaming devices if they have the knowledge that this information may be used in an unlawful way.3 If there is no knowledge or intent, no crime occurred:
Example: Tom works at Mandalay Bay. While giving a tour of the casino to his friends who are visiting, he mentions offhandedly, “a casino host told me that if you hit the poker machines on the side, you’ll always get a full house. Crazy!” Unless Tom had knowledge or intent for his family to then use that information to cheat, Tom committed no crime.
Intent or knowledge is difficult for prosecutors to prove since it goes towards state of mind, which is invisible. Typical evidence in these cases includes surveillance video, text communications, and eyewitness testimony.
3.2. The defendant’s actions were legal
Sometimes a person’s perfectly lawful actions are misconstrued as illegal by others. For example, perhaps a casino employee who was accused of altering a roulette wheel was merely cleaning or repairing it. As long as insufficient evidence exists to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, criminal charges cannot stand.
3.3. The police committed an illegal search
The police are required to work within the bounds of the Fourth Amendment when conducting police searches. If the police overstep their bounds, the defendant can file a motion to suppress evidence, which asks the judge to disregard all the evidence found from the illegal search. Assuming the court grants this motion, then the D.A. could be forced to dismiss the criminal charges for lack of proof.
4. Immigration consequences
It is possible that an immigration judge could find that illegally making, altering, or selling gaming equipment is a crime involving moral turpitude in Nevada. Therefore, non-U.S. citizens who are facing NRS 465.085 charges are encouraged to hire an experienced lawyer right away to try to get the charge changed to a non-deportable crime.
5. Sealing records
People convicted of violating NRS 465.085 are required to wait five (5) years after the case ends before asking the court to seal their criminal record.4 Note that there is no waiting time to get a record seal if the charge got dismissed (and therefore there is no conviction).5 Learn more about getting Nevada criminal records sealed.
6. Related offenses
6.1. Cheating at gambling
Cheating at gambling (NRS 465.083) occurs when someone alters the elements of chance, method of selection, or criteria which determine either:
- the result of a game;
- the amount or frequency of payment in a game;
- the value of a wagering instrument; or
- the value of a wagering credit
Not surprisingly, cheating is punished identically to unlawful acts with gambling equipment under NRS 465.085.
6.2. Gaming fraud
Gaming fraud (NRS 465.070) occurs when someone either:
- alters or misrepresent a game’s outcome after the outcome is made sure but before it is revealed to the players;
- makes a bet (or not) after receiving knowledge not available to all players;
- claims money from a game with the intent to defraud without having made a wager contingent thereon (or to take more money than was won);
- knowingly entices another to go to any place where an illegal gambling game is being conducted with the intent that the other person participate;
- places or increases a bet after acquiring knowledge of the outcome of the game;
- reduces or cancels a bet after acquiring knowledge of the outcome of the game;
- unlawfully manipulates with the intent to cheat any component of a gaming device;
- bribes someone to influence the outcome of a game; or
- changes the normal outcome of an interactive gaming system
Also not surprisingly, gaming fraud is punished identically to unlawful acts with gambling equipment under NRS 465.085.
6.3. Unpaid casino markers
The Nevada crime of not paying a casino marker (NRS 205.130) occurs when someone who has taken out a casino marker fails to make good on paying it back within the time period allotted. State law presumes the defendant has an “intent to defraud” if there is insufficient money in the defendant’s bank account when the casino tries to redeem the marker.
The penalty for not paying back a marker of at least $1,200 is a category D felony, carrying:
- one to four (1 – 4 ) years in prison,
- up to $5,000 in fines plus administrative fees, and
- full restitution
Otherwise, not paying back a casino marker is a misdemeanor, carrying:
- up to six (6) months in jail, and/or
- up to $1,000 in fines
- NRS 465.085 Unlawful manufacture, sale, distribution, marking, altering or modification of equipment and devices associated with gaming; unlawful instruction. 1. It is unlawful to manufacture, sell or distribute any cards, chips, dice, game or device which is intended to be used to violate any provision of this chapter. 2. It is unlawful to mark, alter or otherwise modify any associated equipment or gaming device, as defined in chapter 463 of NRS, in a manner that:(a) Affects the result of a wager by determining win or loss; or(b) Alters the normal criteria of random selection, which affects the operation of a game or which determines the outcome of a game. 3. It is unlawful for any person to instruct another in cheating or in the use of any device for that purpose, with the knowledge or intent that the information or use so conveyed may be employed to violate any provision of this chapter.
- NRS 465.088 Penalties for violation of NRS 465.070 to 465.086, inclusive.1.
- NRS 465.085(3).
- NRS 179.245.
- NRS 179.255.