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.
This is not the case especially in gaming cities like Las Vegas where casinos have to study a tourist’s financial information including the borrower’s net worth. This information will enable the casino to decide whether the borrower/patron is fitting to repay the marker he/she’s about to borrow. Upon approval of the application, the patron has to sign an agreement stating that the marker has to be paid in the span of 15 to 30 days.
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.
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.
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.
The law states that a person counterfeit records with an intention to defraud. Misrepresentation of asset charges and identity theft can also go along with forgery charges.
This law states that a person willfully passes a check knowing that their bank account has insufficient funds to cover the amount of the check. Since casino marker is similar to a check, the same laws apply for both bad checks and casino markers.
This means the person tricked and convinced someone to hand over their money. Some people use forgery or made false statements to get the money.
The District Attorney and the casino are required to take the necessary steps to redeem the marker themselves before the state of Nevada charges you for the unpaid casino markers. Borrowers are notified for the outstanding debt, and is given a chance to settle the debt before criminally charged.
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).
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.
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”.
Once the District Attorney decides to prosecute you for the unpaid casino markers, the state of Nevada will send another notice by certified mail giving you another 10 days from the date of the mailing of the letter to pay any of the outstanding debt you owed to the casino plus the District Attorney’s collection fees. After 10 days and the unpaid markers are still not settled, an arrest warrant will be issued in Nevada.
The District Attorney will ask a judge to issue a warrant for your arrest. However, the execution of the warrant depends if you are an in-state resident or not.
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.
• Possible maximum 6 months in jail
• $10,000 fines
• 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
Prosecutors are willing to resolve most unpaid marker cases since this allegation are non-violent offenses and don’t justify being imprisoned. Being incarcerated would not allow the defendant to pay the restitution.
• 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.
- Challenging the casino marker’s facial value
Casinos sometimes issue markers that do not qualify as checks under the state law of Nevada. In this case, the District Attorney may not prosecute you for neglecting to settle them. The DA cannot prosecute the following types of markers:
• Casino markers that have been altered or looked forged;
• Casino markers that do not show the casino (payee), the amount of money, the date, or your signature;
• Casino markers where your identities or the casino cannot be determined;
• Casino markers that are predated, post-dated, or when an agreement was made to hold the check for later payment;
If the casino did not suffer any monetary injury, or the casino markers are for pre-existing debt.
- Hiring a Defense Attorney for Unpaid Markers
Hiring a good 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.