Casino Marker Lawyer Las Vegas
Getting arrested on a charge for not paying casino markers/debts in Las Vegas is similar to being arrested on a charge for writing bad checks. These charges are serious offenses in the state of Nevada because the casino industry is such a huge part of its economy. Nevada is unique in this regard. It’s pretty much the only place in the United States where you can go to jail for owing a debt.
Remember, if a casino loans you money to gamble and you don’t pay it back, you could go to jail. The good news is that The Vegas Lawyers routinely handle cases of this kind and can help if you find yourself in debt to a casino and facing criminal charges.
What Are Casino Markers?
Casino markers are basically zero interest lines of credit issued by a casino to its players. The casino, however, requires the players/gamblers to allow repayment of the lines of credit by giving it access to the players’ bank accounts to pay off the money extended through the line of credit.
Since casinos are not in the business of giving away money, they expect to get paid back through the bank accounts of the players to whom they’ve extended credit. When this fails to happen because of insufficient funds in the bank account, then the casinos can pursue criminal charges. What you need to know is that obtaining a casino marker with insufficient funds in your bank account is the same as writing a bad check. It could land you in jail.
Under Nevada law, specifically NRS 205.130, unpaid casino markers are equally classified as writing a bad check. The state assumes you are guilty based upon an “intent to defraud” the casino because you built up an amount of money you allegedly knew your bank account would not be able to pay off. The penalties are equally the same as writing a bad check.
Owing Money To A Las Vegas Casino Can Be A Crime
If you were in Las Vegas and built up unpaid casino debt, then you can officially be prosecuted for failure to pay off your casino markers. Many people are surprised to learn that, unlike other forms of debt, casino markers cannot be discharged through bankruptcy unless the District Attorney drops the charges. Why? Because until charges are dropped, you’re dealing with a crime and not just a civil debt matter.
Criminal Prosecution Does Not Happen Immediately
There is a process that occurs before Nevada initiates prosecution of a person for defaulting on a casino marker.
First, the casino can try to get its money back by directly accessing the player’s bank account. Allowing the casino access to one’s bank account is normally a condition before a person can even get a casino marker extended.
Second, if the player has insufficient funds in his or her bank account to pay back the casino marker, the casino is required by law to send the player a certified letter providing 10-days from the date of the letter to pay back the money.
If the player does not pay back the money within the 10-day period, then the casino can file a complaint with the Bad Check Unit of the District Attorney’s Office seeking criminal prosecution. Once the District Attorney is involved, repayment of the debt directly to the casino is no longer an option. Instead, the player must communicate with the prosecutor’s office and deal with not only paying back the original amounts borrowed but additional collection fees permitted by law.
The decision to prosecute a person for defaulting on a casino marker is entirely within the discretion of the District Attorney. Before initiating criminal charges, the District Attorney will send the player another letter via certified mail providing another 10-days to pay back the amount of the marker.
If the player fails to pay back the amount within that additional 10-day period, then the District Attorney will generally commence criminal proceedings and seek an arrest warrant for the player.
Penalties For Owing Money To A Casino
Since failure to pay off a casino marker falls under the offense of writing a bad check, the penalties are the same.
- Misdemeanor conviction: For casino markers involving less than $1,200, up to $1,000 fines and/or up to 6 months in jail.
- Felony conviction: Not paying back a casino marker of at least $1,200 is a category D felony in Nevada and carries up to a $5,000 fine and 1-4 years in jail plus restitution.
- Possible deportation: Depending on your immigration status, you could face possible deportation if intent to defraud is proven because it’s considered a crime of “moral turpitude.”
Casino Marker Defenses
There are several potential defenses in the case of failing to pay back your casino markers/debts. If you’ve been charged with a casino marker crime, your defenses could include:
- Proof you did not have the intent to defraud: If you can prove you simply did not mean to defraud the casino, your charges can be reduced and/or dismissed. Such proof would be holding sufficient funds in your bank account at the time you obtained the marker/debt.
- Proof the casino marker is void: If you can prove the casino marker is void then you can get your charges either reduced or dismissed. Proving the marker is void could include failure to possess your signature, invalid listing of date, and more.
Nevada Can Prosecute A Person Even If They Live Out Of State
Many casino marker cases involve out of state persons. Given that people from all over the United States and world come to Las Vegas to gamble, this is not surprising. While most people never think that a civil debt can land them in jail, they’re often surprised to learn it can happen in Las Vegas.
If you’re dealing with a casino marker charge and you live out of state, you need local counsel that understands the laws relating to casino markers and is familiar with the process and procedures involving these types of cases.
Under Nevada law, a defendant must appear in court for a felony arraignment even if he or she is represented by counsel. Failing to appear can result in the issuance of an arrest warrant. Once that happens, it’s possible, indeed highly likely, that a defendant can be arrested in their home state and extradited to Nevada to face charges.
The Vegas Lawyers Have the Experience You Need
If you’re facing casino marker charges, you need to contact a licensed and experienced criminal defense attorney right away. At The Vegas Lawyers, we can help you build a strong defense for your case or negotiate a quick resolution that will keep you out of jail and avoid a criminal charge on your record.
Casino marker cases are serious charges than can adversely affect a person’s life given the potential for criminal prosecution. For this reason, it’s important to have the right attorney on your side.
At The Vegas Lawyers law firm, we have the experience and success to ensure you receive a strong defense team that will work tirelessly to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Don’t gamble on your lawyer. Get The Vegas Lawyers on your side.