It is one of the most common scenes in any movie that depicts gambling. A player at the table runs out of money, but for one reason or another, they want to continue playing. So, after a short conversation, an attendant brings trays filled with fresh chips and places them in front of the player. A casino marker has been arranged and delivered. Now, depending on a movie, there are two ways the situation can be resolved. Either the player wins, pays back the marker, and the bad guys are left steaming from rage as our hero walks away with piles of money. The second type of ending involves the player losing and two large gentlemen escorting them out the back door, explaining the fine points of debt economy in the process. The explaining is performed with fists or appropriate tools, like baseball bats.
Of course, this only happens in the movies. Why would a casino have a player beat up because of an unpaid casino marker? It is much easier (and probably more harmful in the long run) to have a district attorney deal with the situation. If you want to avoid that scenario, here are some things you need to know about casino markers.
History of Casino Markers
In the old days (please take note that we didn’t say “good old days”), casino markers were given out by criminals, mostly mobs. After World War 2, that has changed and casinos themselves started issuing a line of credit to their patrons. It was a convenient way for players to keep on playing and, since the house always wins, casinos would end up on a positive side in almost every case. There were some problems, though. The most famous casino marker was issued to Terrance Watanabe. He was given a casino marker in the total value of $127 million at Caesars Palace. He paid $112 million back but refused to pay the remaining $15 million. Watanabe claimed that the casino purposely let him play under the influence and that even supplied him with a big dose of painkillers. In his defense, he stated that he was barred from playing in other casinos due to his compulsiveness and that Caesars Palace took advantage of his condition. In the end, he settled, only paying half a million to the DA’s office.
What is a Casino Marker?
Plainly put, a typical casino marker is interest-free loan casinos extend to their patrons. The payment is due in 30 days, so it is a very short-term loan. It’s intended for regular gamblers who are in good standing with the casino as a stop-gap measure, in case they run out of money. In the past, it was reserved for so-called whales, big players who gamble hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, on a nightly basis. Lately, however, almost everyone can get a casino marker. Until 1982, it was almost impossible for casinos to collect these debts, so they were rather picky to whom they approved them. These days, laws are in place that make not paying back a casino marker a felony, and the DA’s office will assist in the matter. Since collecting a debt has become so much easier, casinos run a little to no risk of not getting their money back.
Defaulting on A Casino Marker
Defaulting on a casino marker is a serious offense, at least in the United States, and especially Nevada. It won’t happen immediately. You will have at least 10 days before the casino in question will notify the District Attorney’s office. The DA’s office will give you additional 10 days to pay up, but the sum will now include the 10% fee they charge for all collections. Once those 10 days have passed, they will file a criminal complaint against you. At that point, the cat is out of the bag and you will be facing fraud charges. Whether you have actually planned on defrauding the casino or you simply don’t have the money to pay them back is irrelevant. You will be arrested and sentenced for fraud. The real kicker is that your debt will be waiting for you once you are released from prison. Even if you serve your full sentence, the casino marker will still be open and you will face a civil suit filed by the casino. Considering all of this, it simply isn’t worth it to renegade on your financial obligations.
Should You Get A Casino Marker?
Nobody can answer this question but you. Perhaps the best approach is to treat it like any other loan and only take it if you are confident that you can pay it back. The difference is that a casino marker must be paid in full in 30 days. So, if you have the money in your bank account and simply can’t access it, it isn’t that big of a deal. On the other hand, if you are counting on winning and use those winning to pay back the casino, you need to step back and think things through. Nobody can guarantee you that your gamble will pay off and you can as easily end up losing the money. As we explained above, that can spell a disaster if you can’t afford that loss.