Why Is Card Counting Considered Illegal?

Card counting is a form of cheating in gambling where players assign values to cards and keep track of high and low-valued cards dealt.

In the US, card counting isn’t illegal, yet it is strictly outlawed by all casinos.

In this article, we explore why card counting is considered illegal and the consequences of this behavior.

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why card counting considered illegal

Card counting is legal despite widespread assumptions. Mentally tracking the cards breaks no rules or laws of the country. However, casinos consider this as unlawful and a form of cheating. 

It’s an advantage move that reduces the casino’s mathematical advantage over players. Casinos use many methods to deter card counting. It’s a form of cheating that can get you banned.

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Reasons Why Card Counting Is Banned

Disrupting the Profitability of the Casino

The casino industry requires steady revenue to exist. Counting cards might cost the casino a lot as it threatens gambling enterprises’ business strategy and profitability.

Casinos prevent card counting by shuffling decks more often or using automatic shufflers.

Discouragement for New Players

Casinos cater to everyone, and card counting spoils the fun. The casino becomes less fun and inclusive when new players think they’re being cheated.

Protecting the Reputation of the Game

Blackjack and other card games require luck. Casinos severely oppose any behavior that impairs the game’s apparent fairness. Casinos can maintain public trust by forbidding card counting.

Adherence to Legal Requirements

Card counting can be viewed as a tactic that manipulates the outcome of a game, breaching gambling laws.

Reducing Disputes and Conflicts

Casino cheating can cause disputes between players and the house. When a player counts cards and wins big, the casino will question their method, resulting in legal battles and brand damage.

Casinos try to reduce such issues by forbidding card counting and maintaining good client relations.

Maintaining the House Edge

Casinos have a statistical house edge over players. It secures the casino’s long-term profitability. Card counting can improve the player’s odds.

Casinos ban card counting to safeguard their finances and business model.

Avoiding Collusion and Teamwork

Card counting can be more effective when multiple players work together to beat the house. However, team play, aka collusion, can affect the casino’s profits.

Casinos prevent card counting from equalizing the playing field and discourage cooperative strategies.

Ruins the Casino Experience

Casino premises want all players to have fun. Allowing card counting may cause players to mistrust one another. Casinos allow players to focus on the game by banning card counting

By prohibiting card counting, casinos provide an environment in which players may concentrate on the game rather than worrying about unfair advantages. 

What Happens If You’re Caught Counting Cards?

caught counting cards

If a casino establishment suspects card counting, they may take several actions. Getting caught can result in the following:

1. Warning or Prohibition

The gambling establishment may warn card counters. In some cases, they may prohibit the individual from gaming operations.

The casino’s rules and the card counter’s background determine the punishment.

2. Blacklisting

Casinos monitor card counters and other cheating players. Being banned may make it difficult to get into other casinos because casino firms share information.

Getting banned substantially limits a player’s gaming alternatives and long-term casino game participation.

3. Winnings Confiscation

If a player is seen counting cards, the casino may refuse to pay out their wins. The casino can claim that the act breaches the game’s terms and conditions, justifying its decision to withhold payouts.

4. Legal Implications

Casino establishments can refuse service to anyone suspected and proven of card counting. If a counter is found, the casino may call the authorities and charge them with trespassing or fraud.

5. Reputational Harm

Cheaters may damage their reputation in the gaming community and among potential employers when caught. The incident may affect their personal and professional lives.

6. Monitoring and Surveillance

If a person is suspected of counting cards, they will most likely be extensively monitored by casino security officers. Any future visits to casinos may be subject to increased monitoring and surveillance. 

For example, security cameras, extensive tracking of playing habits, or bans from playing certain games may be used to monitor individuals.

7. Disqualification from Players’ Clubs and Promotions

Casino players’ clubs give frequent gamblers various benefits. Counting cards might get you kicked out of these clubs and lose you free meals, lodging, and promotions.

8. Addiction Risk Reduction

Card counting may increase gambling addiction risk. Successful card counters may grow addicted to gambling. Limiting this helps casinos promote safe gambling and decrease addiction.

9. Other Players’ Psychological Impact

Cheating may affect other players at the table. When a card counter consistently wins, other players may feel frustrated or envious. This issue may cause non-card counting participants to argue or enjoy the game less. 

Casinos seek to avoid unfavorable experiences and provide a positive and entertaining environment for all players.

10. Social Interaction Loss

Cheating and other inappropriate behaviors might impair social interactions. It can draw attention away from other players and the casino. This can reduce casino gaming’s social aspect.

11. Preserving the Luck Factor

Many players enjoy the thrill of the unknown in casino games, which are based on luck and chance. Card counting reduces uncertainty by adding skill and strategy. 

However, casinos ban this to maintain the luck-based nature of their games and create an atmosphere of anticipation and excitement for players.

Final Words

Card counting undermines the house edge and lowers revenue; hence, casinos strongly oppose it. It is considered illegal because it affects the casino’s earnings, breaks house rules, deters recreational players, and preserves the game’s reputation. 

Cheaters may be warned, banned, blocked, or have their winnings confiscated by the establishment. 


Can a normal player count cards?

It is possible, but may take a lot of practice and dedication. It is a form of cheating that takes practice and caution.

How long will it take to learn card counting?

Card counting needs hard work and discipline. The estimated time needed to learn this is around 100-200 hours of at-home setup with experts in order to perfect the skill.

Do professional card players count cards?

Not every professional card player counts cards. However, at some point, it is a technique that they use to bring home big amounts.

Who is the godfather of card counting?

Edward O. Thorp. He wrote Beat the Dealer in 1962, which highlighted betting and playing strategies.