Criminal Law

2990. Bookmaking

The defendant is charged [in Count ______] with bookmaking.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

1. The defendant engaged in bookmaking;


2. When the defendant acted, (he/she) knew that (he/she) was engaging in bookmaking.

Bookmaking includes the taking of bets, either orally or recorded in writing. The defendant does not need to be involved in betting as a business or occupation. The taking of one bet is sufficient.

A bet is a wager or agreement between two or more people that if an uncertain future event happens, the loser will (pay money to the winner/ [or] give the winner something of value). [A bet includes a wager made on the outcome of any actual or purported event, including but not limited to any kind of sporting contest [or <insert description of event from Pen. Code, § 337a>.] [It is not necessary that the event that was bet on actually take place.]

Bench Notes

Instructional Duty

The court has a sua sponte duty to give this instruction defining the elements of the crime.


Elements. Pen. Code, § 337a, subd. 1; People v. Burch (1953) 118

Cal.App.2d 122, 124 [257 P.2d 44]; People v. Ghio (1927) 82 Cal.App. 28, 32-33 [255 P. 205].

Knowledge Required. People v. Coppla (1950) 100 Cal.App.2d 766, 768 [224 P.2d 828].

Bookmaking Defined. People v. Thompson (1962) 206 Cal.App.2d 734, 739 [24 Cal.Rptr. 101]; People v. Fontes (1970) 7 Cal.App.3d 650, 653-654 [86 Cal.Rptr. 790]; People v. Bradford (1949) 95 Cal.App.2d 372, 377-378 [213 P.2d 37].

Bet Defined. People v. Oreck (1946) 74 Cal.App.2d 215, 220 [168 P.2d 186].

Writing Not Required. Pen. Code, § 337a, subd. 1; People v. Burch (1953) 118 Cal.App.2d 122, 124 [257 P.2d 44].

One Bet Sufficient. People v. Buckman (1960) 186 Cal.App.2d 38, 50 [8 Cal.Rptr. 765].

Event Need Not Occur. People v. Ghio (1927) 82 Cal.App. 28, 32-33 [255 P. 205].

Secondary Sources

3 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000), Crimes Against Public Peace and Welfare, § 278.


As a result of statutory amendments, the committee believes that there is no longer a distinction between the elements of this crime and the offense of accepting a bet. (Pen. Code § 337a, subd. 6; see CALCRIM No. 2996, Betting or Wagering.)

Related Issues

Cash Not Required

A bet does not require that the defendant receive cash. (People v. Raze (1949) 91 Cal.App.2d 918, 922 [205 P.2d 1062].) It is sufficient if the defendant received something of value equivalent to money. (Ibid.)

(New January 2006)