Our criminal defense lawyers at The Vegas Lawyers have noticed that many cases involve failure to pay casino markers. With that in mind, it’s fair to ask, “What is a casino marker?”

A casino marker is a zero-interest line of credit offered by casinos to certain customers.

Gamblers must pay back the debt via bank account within a specific time (typically 30 days but sometimes more). However, if the gambler cannot pay their debts due to a lack of funds in their account, the casino can pursue criminal charges.

Unlike other types of debt, owing money to a Las Vegas casino can lead to misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the amount owed. However, there are ways to handle casino marker debts before charges are filed.

This article explains casino markers in Nevada, how casino marker laws work, penalties for failure to pay casino debt, and how to defend against casino marker charges.

How Casino Markers Work

Casino markers are similar to most other types of loans. However, there’s one major caveat: if you don’t repay the money you owe a casino, you could end up in jail, on probation, and with a lifelong criminal record. Here’s an example of how casino markers work.

  1. Get approved for casino credit: In most cases, Las Vegas casinos need to see that you are creditworthy and intend to spend a significant amount of money in their establishment before extending a line of credit. Further, you must have the amount you’re requesting for the marker in a cash account.
  1. Sign a casino “marker”: A casino marker is similar to a check, but it isn’t immediately cashed. You can pay the loan back before the due date. However, the casino can submit the marker to your financial institution for payment if you don’t.

If your bank account has insufficient funds when the casino attempts to collect their money, you could face criminal prosecution. However, in many cases, casinos prefer to work with individuals before going to the authorities.

Casino Marker Laws In Nevada

According to NRS 205.130, individuals who willfully draw a check (with intentions to defraud) to obtain “credit extended by any licensed gaming establishment” are essentially guilty of writing bad checks.

It is a crime because the state assumes that you knew that your account lacked sufficient funds, but you still extended a line of credit with the casino. That’s considered fraud in Nevada.

Penalties For Failure To Pay Casino Marker Debt

Individuals convicted of defrauding a Las Vegas casino face either misdemeanor or felony charges. If the unpaid casino marker is less than $1,200, it’s a misdemeanor. If the marker is $1,200 or more, it’s a category D felony. Learn more below.

  • Misdemeanor: Up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines
  • Felony: Up to 4 four years in jail, but not less than 1-year. Up to $5,000 in fines plus restitution payments to the casino

Further, if you’re not a citizen of the United States, a conviction in a casino marker case could negatively affect your immigration status – up to potential deportation.

What To Expect In A Casino Marker Case

gambling at the casinos

Casino marker cases in Nevada aren’t immediately prosecuted. The casino and district attorney must complete a few steps before pursuing criminal charges. They include but are not limited to:

  1. The casino attempts to withdraw the debts from the bank account given when the marker was signed.
  1. If the account lacks the funds to cover the debt, the casino is required to send the gambler a certified letter demanding the marker be paid within 10 days.
  1. If the individual doesn’t pay back the money within 10 days, the casino can file a criminal complaint with the District Attorney’s office.
  1. Once the District Attorney’s Office receives the complaint, they will send a certified letter demanding payment within an additional 10 days.
  1. If the gambler still doesn’t pay back their debts within the additionally allotted time, the District Attorney can (and most likely will) press charges, resulting in an arrest warrant.

It’s important to note that you can no longer negotiate repayment terms directly with the casino once the District Attorney gets involved in a casino marker case. All communication must be directed to the DA’s office.

For that reason, it’s important to consult with a criminal defense attorney for casino marker fraud as soon as you realize that you can’t pay the debt as promised.

How To Defend Against Casino Marker Charges

It’s best to retain legal counsel to negotiate on your behalf with the casino before they file a complaint with the Clark County District Attorney’s Office. However, if you’ve already been charged casino marker fraud, there are still a few ways to defend against the charges.

The most common defense strategies for casino marker charges in Las Vegas include:

Invalid or void casino marker

Casinos sometimes issue markers that don’t meet the Nevada standard for checks. That includes casino markers that aren’t accurate, don’t show enough information, are altered, etc.

No intention to defraud

It’s difficult to prove that there was no intent to defraud. Nevada casino marker laws automatically presume an intent to defraud if your account has insufficient funds when the casino attempts to redeem the marker.

However, if you can prove that it was an honest mistake, you have a credible history of casino marker repayment, you fell ill, or a banking mistake occurred, the DA is more likely to drop charges. 

Author: Tony Abbatangelo, Esq.

Anthony “Tony” L. Abbatangelo Esq. is a smart, compassionate attorney that knows how to get results and is no stranger to the courtroom. Tony and his team are ready to assist you with your criminal and DUI defense.

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