In Malcolm in the Middle season 2 episode 5 "Casino", Hal plays blackjack at a casino on an Indian reservation. He takes cues from his son Malcolm, who can card count and is standing in an area outside the casino floor where minors are allowed. They are caught and banned from the casino.

Obviously the casino didn't do anything illegal here; they have the right to exclude anyone they want from their property. But the question is, did Hal? Is there a point where a minor advising an adult's actions in a casino game becomes legally equivalent to the minor playing that game?

2 Answers 2


I don't know if it's the same at Indian casinos, but the Nevada law regarding underage gambling says:

1.  A person under the age of 21 years shall not:

(a) Play, be allowed to play, place wagers at, or collect winnings from, whether personally or through an agent, any gambling game, slot machine, race book, sports pool or pari-mutuel operator.

It's conceivable that this scheme between Malcolm and Hal constitutes Hal acting as an agent of Malcolm. But I think if Hal is betting with his own money, not Malcolm's, it would not be viewed as such.

Perhaps Hal, by engaging Malcolm in this scheme, could be viewed as contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The facts leading up to it would be relevant (did Hal coerce Malcolm, or was it Malcolm's idea?). But if I remember the show correctly (I did watch it regularly), the kids were mildly delinquent already.


It is probably against the law for a minor to be in the casino at all, if the minor is doing more than walking through to someplace else in the company of a guardian. Most casinos and most law enforcement agencies are lenient on that point, however.

If the adult is actually making all of the bets, this probably doesn't amount to bets by the minor any more than a three year old urging a parent to bet red in roulette because it is a prettier color than black.

Malcolm is probably guilty of conspiracy with Hal to cheat to the extent that card counting is illegal, as opposed to merely being contrary to casino policy. But, card counting, while a grounds for ejection from the casino, is probably not a crime.

  • The OP says the minor is not in the casino area, so the first paragraph is not relevant. Imagine that the father is wearing a camera and earpiece so the minor can advise him remotely.
    – Barmar
    Commented Apr 5 at 23:40
  • @Barmar I missed that point.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Apr 6 at 0:11
  • There is nothing illegal about card counting, either. It is simply performing math on information at the table that is available to everyone. As a matter of fact, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in Uston v. Resorts International Hotel, Inc., 89 N.J. 163 (1982), that casinos cannot exclude patrons for the sole reason that they are card counters. This is a hastily written, poorly researched answer that is filled with the word "probably" and failed to even read the question properly. Downvoted.\
    – Purple P
    Commented Apr 6 at 18:14
  • 1
    @PurpleP To be clear, that ruling is dependent on specifics of the New Jersey Casino Control Act, which makes exclusion the right of the Casino Control Commission rather than individual casinos. The rules are likely to be different in Nevada and Indian reservations. However, I think you're right that there's no place where it's actually illegal (which is why ohwillieke hedge with "to the exgtent").
    – Barmar
    Commented Apr 6 at 22:33

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