Casinos are probably the main thing that attracts people to Las Vegas, apart from the dazzling entertainment centers and bright lights that other tourists also like to see. Not a night passes by that the various gambling halls within and near The Strip are filled with faithful patrons pulling levers at slot machines, throwing dice at the craps table or raising their bets in any one of the poker sets within. Many of these patrons tend to splurge whenever they are at a casino, which means they need to bring in a lot of cash for a gaming night. In such situations, most of the dedicated gamblers opt to use the casino’s casino marker option where they can still bet beyond the amount that they have as long as the house hasn’t cashed their check in; this, however, can easily lead to a serious amount of debt with the proprietors.
Bad casino marker cases are some of the more common legal issues that Las Vegas establishments have to deal with regularly. Patrons can miss out on their payments no matter how small, and in time these little bits of outstanding debts can snowball into large defaults that put both the player and the casino at risk. Criminal defense lawyers who handle these kinds of cases know that even the smallest deferred casino marker can cause a lot of problems for the defendant later on.
The Price of a Gamble
Law dictates that casino markers can remain unpaid between 10 and 30 days since the signing of the document. Once the agreed period expires without any payment made, the house will notify the player about his or her outstanding marker, usually by mail. Included in the message is a reminder that should the player continue to defer on the casino marker, the house will refer the case to the District Attorney for the collection of the debt.
Elevating the bad marker issue to the DA does not automatically constitute to an arrest for the player. It does, however, count as a serious financial concern, as the DA will not only act as the middleman between the errant player and the casino when it comes to collecting on the marker but will also include ‘collector’s fees’ amounting to 5-10% of the total debt. Additional fees on top of a bad marker can put a lot of financial strain on the player, so paying the marker before the DA intervenes is preferable. This piece of gaming legislation is a somewhat effective deterrent to bad markers, although it did have detractors in the past.
Jail Time and Extra Debt
Never choose to renege on a bad debt marker and to avoid paying up even to the DA at the same time. Should a player fail to pay even after the DA’s deadline, the DA will have every legal leeway to send out a summons for the player’s appearance in court. The usual procedure would have the judge read out the bad casino marker notice to the errant player, reminding him or her to pay out on the debt or face legal consequences. In some situations the judge can order the defendant to be held in custody for a short period and can ask that bail should be paid, although the defense lawyer can negotiate to skip out on the bail and temporary incarceration.
However, if the defendant has had a record of failing to pay bad markers, or has a prior criminal record within or outside the state, the court can send out a warrant for his or her arrest. A misdemeanor conviction for a bad marker, which is equivalent to failing to pay a marker that is below $650 equates period of time in prison and additional fees to pay to the state. Anything above $650 is classified as a category D felony and equates to a maximum of four years in prison, standard fines, and mandatory administrative fees that are a fraction of each marker owed. In both cases, the defendant will still be required to pay the outstanding bad markers.
Dealing with the legal implications of a bad marker can be a serious legal and financial burden, especially when the case drags on for months. In addition, prosecuting a bad marker case can often be as easy as presenting documents indicating the defendant signed the marker to cover a specific period until he or she can pay it in full, along with backing documents. Defense lawyers know this tactic is common, and have devised their own counter-arguments.
A usual move for the defense is to question the validity of a casino’s issued marker, wherein they will argue that their client had no knowledge that the marker was actually invalid in the first place. Another trusted tactic is to prove that the defendant was unable to pay on time due to underlying circumstances that are out of his or her control. An argument that was used in a recent bad marker case questioned the issuing of casino markers to a player even if the casinos had access to the player’s banks accounts and had an overview of how much he can actually pay up on. This defense approach is debatable, and is best used as a last resort.
Casinos and debts go hand in hand in the busy streets of Las Vegas, but that does not mean that one should always fall for the sin of bad markers. Immediate resolution of bad markers is the first step to avoiding legal complications and long-term repercussions. Should everything else fail, get in touch with a reputable defense attorney to stand up against any bad marker charges.