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Is Card Counting in Blackjack Illegal?

Card counting is not illegal for US players, but casinos have the right to act against players they believe are using this strategy to gain an edge. As a player, it’s crucial to be aware of the casino’s policies and regulations regarding card counting. If you decide to use this technique, always do so discreetly and responsibly. Remember, blackjack is ultimately a game of chance, and there are no guarantees of winning, regardless of the strategies employed.

Card Counting in Blackjack

Understanding Card Counting

Card counting is a blackjack strategy that involves keeping track of the cards dealt to gain insight into the remaining cards in the shoe. The technique allows skilled players to adjust their bets and gameplay decisions accordingly, potentially tipping the odds in their favor.

The Legal Perspective

Contrary to popular belief, card counting is not illegal under federal law in the United States. However, casinos prefer to avoid this strategy, as it can significantly reduce their edge and lead to substantial financial losses. As a result, casinos employ various measures to deter card counters and maintain their advantage.

Private Property Rights

Casinos are private establishments and reserve the right to refuse service to anyone they suspect of card counting. While card counting is not illegal, casinos can ban players they believe are using this strategy to gain an advantage. Suspected card counters may sometimes be asked to leave the premises, and their winnings can be confiscated.

Legal Precedents

Several legal cases have addressed the issue of card counting, reinforcing the notion that the strategy is not against the law. One notable case is the New Jersey Supreme Court’s ruling in the landmark 1979 case of State v. Parker. The court held that card counting is a skill-based activity and does not constitute illegal gambling.

Casino Countermeasures

To protect their interests, casinos employ various countermeasures to hinder card counters. These measures include:

  • Frequently shuffling the decks.
  • Using continuous shuffling machines.
  • Employing trained security personnel to identify suspicious behavior.

Players caught counting cards may be added to a “blacklist” shared among casinos, making it difficult for them to play blackjack at other establishments.

Advice for Players

If you’re considering card counting as a blackjack strategy, it’s essential to understand the potential risks involved. While it is not illegal, getting caught can lead to being banned from a casino and potentially other nearby casinos. If you employ this strategy, remember to stay discreet and avoid paying unnecessary attention to your actions.


The legality of card counting in blackjack for US players is exciting and nuanced. While card counting is not against federal law, casinos hold the right to protect their business interests and can ask suspected card counters to leave their premises. Therefore, players considering card counting should exercise caution and discretion when employing this technique.

It is essential to remember that blackjack is primarily a game of chance, and no strategy can guarantee consistent wins. Instead of relying solely on card counting, players should focus on mastering the basic blackjack strategy and managing their bankroll wisely.

Moreover, players can explore other legal and effective ways to improve their skills, such as joining blackjack tournaments, practicing regularly, and studying the game’s intricacies. Players can enjoy a more fulfilling and rewarding blackjack experience by honing their abilities and understanding the game better.

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