How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Law Educator, Esq. Your Own Question
Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 118087
Experience:  Attorney with over 20 years law enforcement, prosecution, civil rights and defense experience
Type Your Criminal Law Question Here...
Law Educator, Esq. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I am looking to put together a Billiards tournament asking

Resolved Question:

I am looking to put together a Billiards tournament asking for a $50 per person entry fee of which $46 would be paid back as prize money in varying amounts to the top 25% of the players. Is this illegal as it's structure is similar to a bowling tournament? I have also heard that this is only legal if the hosting business adds 60% of the prize money? Can you please advise if this is close to legal or site any laws that may make this legal.

Thank you,
Dan Heins
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 years ago.

Florida's gambling laws generally apply to games of chance and not to contests of skill. For example, s. 849.09, F.., prohibits lotteries, other than those operated by the state.[1] While the term is not defined, it has generally been held by the courts to include three elements: 1) a prize, 2) awarded by chance, 3) for consideration.

While the elements of a prize and consideration are present in a contest of skill in which the contestants pay an entry fee for the opportunity to win, it is the skill of the contestant, rather than chance, that is the predominant element in the selection of the winner. The Florida Attorney General has stated that contests in which the skill of the contestant predominates over the element of chance do not constitute lotteries.

Section 849.14, F.S., however, makes it unlawful to "stake, bet or wager" money or other thing of value on the result of any trial or contest of skill.[4] In an early decision considering the state's gambling statutes, The Supreme Court of Florida found a violation of law in both games of chance and contests of skill where wages, bets or money were at stake, regardless of "whether the parties betting be the actors in the event upon which their wager is laid or not . . . ."

Subsequently, the Court in Pompano Horse Club v. State, discussed the difference between a "purse, prize or premium" and a "stake, bet or wager," stating that in the former, the person offering the prize or purse "has no chance of gaining back the thing offered but, if he abides by his offer, he must lose it, whereas in the latter each party interested therein has a chance of gain and suffers a risk of loss."

In Creash v. State, the Court again considered the terms "stake, bet or wager," for purposes of the state's gambling laws, stating:

"In gamblers' lingo, 'take, bet or wager' are synonymous and refer to the money or other thing of value put up by the parties thereto with the understanding that one or the other gets the whole for nothing but on the turn of a card, the result of a race, or some trick of magic. A 'purse, prize, or premium' has a broader significance. If offered by one (who in no way competes for it) to the successful contestant in a fete of mental or physical skill, it is not generally condemned as gambling, while if contested for in a game of cards or other game of chance, it is so considered. . . . It is also banned as gambling if created . . . by paying admissions to the game . . . or otherwise contributing to a fund from which the 'purse, prize, or premium' contested for is paid, and wherein the winner gains, and the other contestants lose all." (e.s.)

The payment of an entry fee to participate in the contest of skill when the sponsor of the contest does not participate and where the prize money does not consist of entry fees would not appear to be a "stake, bet or wager."

In Faircloth v. Central Florida Fair, Inc.,[9] the court considered the application of s. 849.14, F.S., to the players of games of skill for prizes:

"We turn next to F.S.A. s. 849.14 which prohibits betting on the result of a trial or contest of skill. It is the [Attorney General's] contention that the playing of [games of skill] falls unquestionably within the bounds of this provision. Defendant's position is arguable. But the more logical interpretation is that the legislature intended by enacting F.S.A. s. 849.14 to proscribe 'wagering' on the results of ball games, races, prize fights and the like as opposed to 'playing' games of skill for prizes. . . . To adopt defendant's construction we would have to find all contests of skill or ability in which there is an entry fee and prizes to be gambling. The list could be endless: golf tournaments, dog shows, beauty contests . . . to name a few. No one seriously considers such activities to be gambling. . . ."

I hope you found my answer helpful, please click on the GREEN ACCEPT button above for my answer. This is necessary for me to be paid for my work and so that I can get credit for assisting you. Your question will not close, and you will still have the opportunity to follow-up if needed. Leaving a bonus and positive feedback is not required, but doing so is certainly appreciated!

Please remember this is a dialog if you have follow up questions please use the REPLY button and ask. If you have additional questions, please keep in mind that I do not know what you already know or don't know, or with what you need help, unless you tell me. Please consider that I am answering the question or question that is posed in your posting based upon my reading of your post and sometimes misunderstandings can occur. If I did not answer the question you thought you were asking, please respond with the specific question you wanted answered.

Also remember, sometimes the law does not support what we want it to support, but that is not the fault of the person answering the question, so please be courteous.

There can also be a delay of an hour or more in between my answers because I may be helping other customers or taking a break.


You can always request me through my profile at or beginning your question with “For PaulMJD…”

Law Educator, Esq. and other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you