Casino Markers: Introduction
It is important to understand that all credit is not equal. Contrary to credit that banks extend, unpaid credit from a casino (referred to as a “Unpaid Marker”) can result in a Felony conviction. That is because not paying a Marker upon presentment to your bank is treated the exact same as not having sufficient funds in your bank account when you write a check. In the case of a dishonored Marker, the Casino has the option to refer the matter to the Bad Check Collections Unit (“BCU”) of the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution. The BCU will send you a Notice giving you a final chance to work out a payment plan within 10 days before referring the case for prosecution.
It is presumed that a person had the intent to defraud the Casino if the Marker is not paid within five (5) days after receiving Notice of Insufficient Funds. Relatedly, most people are surprised to learn that filing Bankruptcy does NOT stop a criminal prosecution even if the casino marker has been discharged.
Definition of Casino Markers
Las Vegas lures millions of tourists every year around the globe
, thanks to its night life and exotic shows. As gambling is one of the city’s many highlights, casino owners have to ensure that its visitors will be encouraged to gamble and spend their money here; a strategy that led to the creation of casino markers and debts.
Markers are generally casino checks that a tourist will use inside a specific casino if he/she agrees to pay it in a short period of time: think of it as the casino’s own currency. This system, tourists borrowing markers, will encourage them to gamble in a casino but, of course, it has to be paid eventually using their (tourist’s) own money. Because casino markers are interest-free when paid on-time, people often think that applying to borrow markers is easy.
How Casino Markers Work in Nevada
In Las Vegas, Nevada, casino markers are treated differently compared to other states with casinos. Nevada is the only state that imposes both civil and criminal penalties for people who do not pay their casino debts.
The state legislature enacted several laws for casino marker debts and oftentimes, the charges are categorized as felonies. Defaulting on a casino marker in Las Vegas is the same as writing a bad check as per Nevada state laws. Know more here: Nevada Revised Statute Section 205.130 – Crimes and Punishments
Failure to repay casino debts is a serious offense. People who do not repay their casino markers will be prosecuted aggressively by Las Vegas casinos and might issue warrants for your arrest. If you receive a notice to repay your casino markers, never ignore it and contact a lawyer to help you settle the charges.
How Casinos Can Charge You
A casino marker in Las Vegas was not legally enforceable as collectible debt. However, Nevada state laws allow casino markers to function the same way as a check. With this viewpoint, casinos were allowed to draw money from a person’s bank account if their debt was not repaid.
- The Nevada law presumes the intent to defraud the casino if you do not pay the debt back
Casinos are already against you from the start; they neither inquire about credit checks, nor verify funds before they issue a casino marker.
According to Nevada law, committing fraud is knowledge that your account cannot cover the marker while gambling. However, there are also chances that people were charged with crime of fraud or unpaid markers even if they have available funds in their account while gambling, but came short when the casino cashes in the marker.
How Can the Law Enforcers Arrest You for Unpaid Markers
Borrowers are notified for the outstanding debt, and is given a chance to settle the debt before criminally charged.
- Drawn on Bank Account
If you have not paid the marker within 30 days, the casino may go directly to your bank and take the money from your account. The casino notifies you about your debt if your account shows insufficient funds (NSF).
- Notice From the Casino’s for Bad Checks
You should receive a written notice by certified mail from the casino that you have 10 days from the time of mailing to settle your unpaid markers.
- Complaint for Bad Checks
The casino will submit a bad check complaint and request the District Attorney to prosecute you if within the 10-day period the unpaid markers are still not settled. AS soon as the casino submits the complaint, you may no longer pay any outstanding debt to the casino directly. From here, the District Attorney stands as the middleman and tacks on 5-10% of what you owe as “collection fees”.
Penalties of Unpaid Markers in Nevada
There are cases when the judge orders very harsh prison sentences for defaulting casino markers. However, District Attorneys are often agreeable in negotiating favorable deals and at times, dismissing the charges – especially if it is your first offense.
Misdemeanor Charges – If the unpaid markers in question were less than $250
• Possible maximum 6 months in jail
• $10,000 fines
Category D Felony - Unpaid markers cost $650 or more.
• Mandatory 1 to 4 years in Nevada State Prison
• $5,000 optional fine
• Mandatory full restitution of the unpaid markers debt
• Mandatory payment for administrative fees. 5% of each marker of $10,000 or less, and an extra 10% for each marker of more than $10,000.
Plea Bargain for Unpaid Markers
- For 1st Time Offenders – If you have never been convicted of unpaid casino markers before and cooperated with the authorities, the prosecution may allow the set-up of monthly payment plans.
- Alleged serial check-writers or Fugitives – Prosecutors may be less willing to dismiss your case outright even if you pay everything back if you purposely fled Las Vegas or have a present criminal record. Oftentimes, the prosecutors will request probation for the time being and bar you from entering any casinos in Nevada.
- Civil Confessions of Judgment – Pleading guilty to a gross misdemeanor in Las Vegas in exchange of signing a civil confession of judgment is another option. You will admit that you owe the casino some money and in this way, the casino will pursue the case through civil court.
No Intent to defraud
Las Vegas court may not convict you of unpaid markers if you did not have the intent to defraud. However, the state law in Nevada presumes that you had intent to defraud if your bank had insufficient funds when the casino tried to redeem your allegedly unpaid markers. The following circumstances can help your argument that you did not intend to pass a bad check:
• The casino intoxicated you with alcohol and compromising your judgment;
• You fell ill after having taken out the unpaid markers;
• You had a long and harmonious history of reimbursing casino markers.
Hiring a Defense Attorney for Unpaid Markers
Hiring an experienced Las Vegas defense attorney
who can show if your unpaid markers fall outside the bad check laws, the District Attorney should dismiss the case. The casino, however, may sue you civilly. You can explore bankruptcy option and not worry about being sent to prison.
Attorney Ross Goodman is devoted to negotiating with prosecutors in orders to resolve your criminal charges. Whether you are falsely accused or are just going through a tough time financially, Ross Goodman will draw on his extensive experience to try and win you a reduction or dismissal in your casino marker case. Call Ross Goodman at (702) 383 - 5088 for a free legal consultation.