You Be The Judge – Illegal Gambling in Pennsylvania

Date: February 9, 2008

Homer and Gavanis were best of friends for 40 years. It has become a tradition during football season that the two buddies would bet on one game per week, $100 per game. Usually, by the end of the year, the two would split on their respective picks.

Homer was a diehard New York Giants fan and when the Super Bowl approached, the buddies decided to make it interesting and put $200 on the line. Gavanis was convinced it was like taking money from a baby because the Patriots were an overwhelming favorite to win the game.

As fortune would have it, of course, the Giants won. Homer and Gavanis watched the game together, and Homer immediately approached Gavanis requesting his $200.

Gavanis was in very bad spirits because of the outcome of the game and appealed to Homer because of their friendship to forget about the bet. Homer, though, wouldn\’t give in and insisted it be paid immediately. The two men began to verbally threaten each other at which time Homer stormed out of Gavanis\’ house.

After several weeks went by, Homer decided that if Gavanis did not pay the money, Homer was going to sue.

Question: Would Homer be successful?

Answer: Homer would not be successful and would be foolhardy to sue. Gambling is illegal in Pennsylvania unless it is sanctioned by the state. Thus, personal bets such as the one described would be considered an illegal activity and subject both individuals to criminal prosecution. Homer would never be able to enforce the debt in any legal forum.

As a general rule, no type of contract can be considered legal and/or enforceable if the basis of that contract constitutes what is considered illegal activity.

Joe Price
Attorney Joe Price is a seasoned Trial Lawyer serving Northeast, Central and Southeast Pennsylvania for the past forty (40) years. He has handled serious personal injury cases in courts throughout the Federal system including New Jersey and New York. Attorney Price is A.V. Rated by Martindale Hubble. He is Board Certified in Civil Practice by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1996.