In Nevada, if you owe money to a casino relating to a gambling debt from a “marker,” and don’t pay it back on time, you can be arrested and jailed wherever you are in the world. The United States Constitution has prohibited the creation of “debtor’s prisons” as part of America’s break from British rule, but, due to a little-known quirk in Nevada law, debtor’s prison is alive and well in the Silver State. A Las Vegas casino marker lawyer can help you stay out of jail when casino debts go bad.
Why do markers exist? The simple answer is that when a player wants to gamble with more substantial amounts of money, he or she has a couple of options. Arrive in Las Vegas with a duffle bag full of cash, which is not a good idea, or transfer money out of investments, savings accounts, or even real estate, to a casino account for the player’s use. Most people don’t want to do this because they have to disturb long term investments or sell property. The solution is to borrow the “funds” from a casino by taking out a marker. The casinos never give actual cash to a player. All marker funds are in the form of that casino’s chips, and the casinos keep track of those chips down to the penny.
Most players figure they’ll borrow the gambling money, win a load of cash, then pay back the casino the amount borrowed, which is always interest-free, and walk off with the winnings. Sounds Fantastic! But what happens when the player loses the amount borrowed from the casino?
The mechanics of how Nevada law has been able to bypass the well-established American tradition that you can’t go to jail for owing people money are essential to understand. A casino marker is a legal document which memorializes a transaction between a casino and a player. Most people consider a marker an I.O.U. This is wrong. In Nevada, a marker is considered a “check” from whatever bank account the player has presented to the casino as part of the credit check which occurs during all marker transactions. For the casino to determine the borrowing limit of each player, the player has to fill out what can be called a loan application. This loan application lists things like net worth, cash on hand, investments, real estate, and work income. The casino does a credit check and then uses a formula to determine how much a player can borrow. Markers can be for a few thousand dollars to millions.
If the player wins, great, they pay back the marker amount, which means return the chips initially borrowed, and cash out whatever is left over. However, if a player loses, the standard marker agreement states that the casino will deposit the “check” for the amount borrowed into the players account 30 days after the marker was signed. Because a marker is considered a check from the player’s checking account, if that check is returned for insufficient funds, the player has just committed a felony in Nevada.
Most players in trouble with a marker deal first with their casino host, then maybe the casino’s debt collection department. At this point, a Las Vegas marker lawyer should be contacted. Statements made to a casino by a player can come back to bite that player if the debt cannot be quickly resolved. There is also an aspect of taking things “personally” when players deal directly with casinos. More than once have casino representatives made decisions based upon a personality conflict with a specific player. If a player believes paying back a marker might turn out to be a problem or the amount owed will not be available in his or her bank account in 30 days, it’s imperative that a casino marker attorney is consulted ASAP. Not only will the casino file a civil suit against a player demanding payment on the marker, but worst of all, the casino will refer the debt to the District Attorney for prosecution as a “Bad Check” case. The District Attorney will issue the player a “pay or get arrested” letter. This is serious business and should not be faced without experienced and effective legal counsel.
Casino marker lawyer Gabriel L. Grasso can step in at any stage in the process and make things go much more smoothly. Whether it’s negotiating with the casino directly during the early stages of the process, or preventing the issuance of an arrest warrant or filing of felony charges once the District Attorney gets involved, Gabriel L. Grasso has decades of experience handling marker cases and can make sure the player stays out of harm’s way. Depending on the player’s eventual ability to pay the debt, or whether there were policy or law violations in granting a player a marker, a casino debt lawyer can facilitate payment plans and often negotiate a reduction in the amount owed. In some instances, a debt may even be wiped out. Although every case is different, in past casino marker prosecutions, marker lawyer Gabriel L. Grasso has been able to negotiate a client’s validly owed debt to under 50 cents on the dollar.
If you are still in the 30-day window for deposit or think a recent marker debt may become a problem, call Gabriel L. Grasso for a free marker analysis. No matter where you may be located or whether casino collections or the District Attorney are keeping you up at night, Gabriel L. Grasso can help you turn a potentially devastating legal nightmare into a manageable inconvenience.