Criminal Defense

Casino Markers and What You Need to Know

Most people would rather not carry large amounts of cash, particularly if they’re heading into a Las Vegas casino. If you’re a big gambler, though, what can you do instead?

Rest assured that the casinos want as much of your business as they can get. That’s why they are often willing to extend you some credit in the form of casino markers. The zero-interest feature on these loans can make them quite attractive.

It all seems easy on the face of it. If you fail to repay these markers in a timely fashion, though, that’s when the trouble begins. You could find yourself facing a double prosecution for what amounts to both a civil and a criminal offense in which you’ll need a casino marker attorney.

The Unpaid Casino Marker Timeline

Under Nevada law NRS 205.130, the casino must attempt to collect unpaid casino markers on its own before enlisting the aid of the district attorney. They will start by sending you a certified notice concerning the unpaid debt. Do not ignore this notice. You will usually have 10 days in which to respond followed by another 30 days during which to make good on the casino marker.

If you have failed to pay in full after 30 days, the casino has Nevada’s permission to take the money owed to it directly out of your bank account, potentially causing your balance to nose-dive. When the funds in your account, are insufficient to cover the debt, the casino will send you another certified notice giving you an additional 10 days to pay up. If you can’t or won’t comply, it will then submit to the district attorney a so-called bad check complaint requesting your prosecution.

When the DA Enters the Picture

After receiving the bad check complaint, the district attorney acts as a debt-collecting middleman between you and the casino, and any payments you make must now go directly to him or her along with a collection fee of between 5 and 10 percent. You now have 10 days in which to submit the total amount via cashier’s check, money order or wire transfer.

It will be your last chance to avoid prosecution. At this point, if you fail to pay up in time, the state of Nevada will issue a warrant for your arrest.

Casino Marker Arrests for Nevada Residents

If you are a permanent resident of Nevada with no prior criminal record, you will likely receive a summons from the DA telling you at what time and at which court they expect you to appear. When you show up for this date, the judge may book you in jail pending an upcoming fingerprinting and photo op. He or she may even set bail equal to the amount of your alleged debt. However, a good Nevada criminal defense lawyer can often convince the judge to waive bail and permit the fingerprinting and mug shot session to take place at the sheriff’s office.

If you happen to have a significant criminal record, however, the DA will likely skip the niceties, instead instructing law enforcement to track you down and arrest you on the spot.

Casino Marker Arrests for Out-of-State Residents

If you have since left Nevada for your permanent residence, the law will now consider you a fugitive from justice, and your home state will have the job of executing the arrest warrant and extraditing you back to Nevada. Your state may or may not allow you to post bond. If you expect arrest in your home state for an unpaid casino marker, an attorney may succeed in keeping you out of custody.

Nevada’s Casino Marker Prosecution

In any casino marker case, the law will presume up front that you are guilty of intending to defraud. The prosecutor must prove only that you took out a marker knowing that your bank account’s cash-on-hand was insufficient to cover it. To do this, the prosecution need show only copies of:

  • The marker as it originally appeared.
  • The unsuccessfully redeemed marker bank-stamped “insufficient funds.”

There are two viable defenses to the charge: Your attorney may be able to prove that you had no deliberate intent to defraud, or that the markers themselves are invalid.

When Unpaid Nevada Casino Markers Prove Invalid

Under Nevada law, a valid marker will show the casino as payee along with an accurate date, the monetary amount in question and your authentic signature. An invalid marker, on the other hand, may:

  • Be unclear to the identity of the casino or yourself.
  • Show signs of alteration or forgery.
  • Be pre- or post-dated.
  • Been issued to cover a pre-existing debt.

Any of these things could likely push the marker outside the bounds of the state’s so-called bad check statutes.

When the Casino Is Unable to Prove its Case

It will be the casino’s responsibility to prove two things:

  • That it has suffered a monetary loss.
  • That at the time it issued the marker, it had no knowledge of insufficient funds on your part.

If either of these things happens to be untrue, the state could have trouble proving an intent to defraud on your part. The same may be the case if:

  • You have an impeccable history of paying casino markers.
  • Although you took out the markers while financially solvent, an unexpected illness later hampered your ability to repay.
  • You can show that at the time you incurred this debt, your bank account did contain sufficient funds.
  • The casino’s efforts to intoxicate you had an adverse effect on your judgment.

Some people have attempted to fight these charges by claiming that casino markers are not the same as checks. This position, while innovative, has not succeeded up until this point. Others think that since they got the casino marker and lost all of their bets, the casino somehow got its money back and they owe nothing. Not the case either.

Penalties and Sentences for Unpaid Casino Markers

If the markers in question were in the amount of $650 or less, Nevada will charge you with a misdemeanor for which the penalty could consist of as much as $1,000 in fines and/or up to six months behind bars. For markers in larger amounts, however, the state will charge you with a Category D felony and a possible $10,000 fine along with administrative fees. You must, of course, still pay off the marker.

Fighting the Charges Against You

Because Nevada law treats unpaid casino markers as deliberate attempts to defraud the venue that issued them, it will prosecute your case in criminal court. Nevada expects you to pay the debt, and even declaring bankruptcy is not an option.

If you are unable to pay outstanding markers from a Las Vegas casino, please contact an attorney as soon as you receive the first notification. Every minute of delay will subject you to greater penalties, and if you leave the situation unaddressed for too long, you could face an embarrassing arrest or even extradition from your home state

Nevada treats casino marker defaults seriously. If you find yourself in this situation, please contact Weiner Law Group immediately at 702-202-0500. We will help you fight the charges and do what we must to save you from large fines and a possible prison sentence.