If your visit to Las Vegas includes plans to finance your gambling with casino markers, be sure you understand exactly how markers work. If you use them and do not repay the money you borrow from the casino in a timely manner, you can face serious repercussions — including Nevada criminal charges.
Casino markers are a seemingly easy, interest-free way of financing your gambling. You establish credit by completing forms in advance or at the casino. Then, as you gamble, you draw markers in specific amounts to pay your bets.
Markers seem to work like a line of credit (and that’s how casinos want you to think of them), but in reality drawing a marker is like writing a check. You need to have real money in your bank account to pay off the check when it’s presented for payment.
The amount of credit you get depends largely on your credit record and your gambling and marker history. If you’ve established a good record, your marker limit is likely to be higher and increase as you bet more. If you have unpaid markers or pay your markers late, you likely won’t get more credit or will get a very low amount.
Casino markers are very common in Las Vegas. To any casino, collecting on your markers is very serious business. They want you to settle your account by paying your markers when your stay is over, or at least within thirty (30) days. If you do not or cannot pay off your markers, the trouble begins.
A casino marker is not like a line of credit or a credit card. In Nevada, it’s treated as a personal check. If you do not pay your markers, the casino “deposits” your check into your bank account to draw out the money you owe. If you don’t have sufficient funds to pay off the marker, the casino marker becomes a bad check under Nevada law.
If the casino fails in its attempt to get the funds from your bank account, they notify you. If you don’t respond within ten (10) days, the casino notifies the Bad Check Unit of the Clark County District Attorney’s Office. (Yes, there is an entire unit dedicated to collecting unpaid casino markers. In one recent year, the Unit reportedly pursued more than 2600 cases and made $2.2 million from marker cases.)
The DA’s Office sends you a certified letter and gives you another ten (10) days to respond and pay the marker. If you still do not respond, the DA issues a warrant for your arrest. You can be arrested and imprisoned in your home state and then extradited to Nevada based on the charge.
The criminal charges for an unpaid marker depend on the amount of the marker. For a marker less than $650, the charge is a misdemeanor that carries a possible jail term of six (6) months and a $10,000 fine. Unpaid markers of $650 or more are class D felonies, with penalties including a jail term of one (1) to four (4) years in state prison, a fine of $5,000, full restitution, payment of all fees and costs, and burdensome probation periods.
Nevada bad check crimes are a type of fraud. A conviction on an unpaid marker charge costs you much more than time in jail and significant financial debts. The conviction is on your record and can affect your employment and housing opportunities, as well as your ability to own and possess firearms. If you are a non-U.S. citizen with a felony bad check conviction, you may be deported.
With a five-year waiting period to seal the record of a Nevada felony bad check conviction, the impact on your life will be substantial and long-term. If you took out casino markers and cannot pay them immediately, you should attempt to negotiate a resolution that avoids a criminal charge. You are more likely to succeed in finding a solution if you consult with an attorney knowledgeable and experienced in casino marker cases.
Your attorney will get in touch with the casino and attempt to arrange an agreeable resolution of the problem. Casinos usually are willing to reach reasonable solutions in non-payment situations if contacted in a timely manner.
If you don’t do anything until after you are arrested, then you absolutely must retain an experienced marker and criminal defense attorney to represent you. At that point, the case is in the hands of the District Attorney’s Office. Your attorney must negotiate with the prosecutor to attempt to find a resolution for the charges.
Whether you have casino markers that you know you cannot pay or you face a bad check charge because of an unpaid marker, trusted and respected Las Vegas attorney Joseph Gersten can help.
At The Gersten Law Firm, there is no charge for your first consultation. Attorney Gersten assists Nevada and out-of-state residents with all types of criminal matters arising in Las Vegas, Henderson, and elsewhere in Clark County. Call 702.857.8777 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment.