Collection of Casino Debts Spurs Suits

In fact, in states like Nevada there are detailed regulations covering how gaming debts may be collected. The one potential problem was that, legally, "Caesars Palace" does not exist. But Clark County Dist. Today's state-licensed casinos do not break kneecaps. October 4th, at 1: Making poker legal as a public service Gambling and the Law: Unfortunately the trip was during the stock market downer.

Courts: Prosecutors are accused of treating debtors like criminals.

Recommended online casinos

Representatives for the casinos named in the suits said they could not discuss pending litigation. Markers, printed by the casinos, look like checks, right down to the signature line. A gambler can either pay up immediately or through billed installments. If he defaults, the marker is "cashed" by the casino, which has permission to tap directly into a player's bank account. In the old days, if the account was dry, the casinos were out of luck.

That is because most states traditionally considered betting to run counter to good public policy and courts did not enforce gambling debts, even in Nevada, Rose said. But gaming interests changed that in when they lobbied two bills through the Nevada Legislature making gambling debts enforceable in civil court and, under criminal law, equating unpaid markers with bad checks, records and interviews show. The criminal provision was not actively enforced until , when the newly elected Bell formed a unit to handle bad checks and the Las Vegas casinos asked him to prosecute gamblers who would not pay their markers.

The Las Vegas district attorney's office is not alone in its casino work. Prosecutors in Atlantic City, N. In his federal lawsuits, however, Fine has focused on Las Vegas, where he alleges that Bell has prosecuted about 5, cases in the last four years. Clark County election records show the industry has been among Bell's largest campaign contributors. Those named in Fine's lawsuits were contributors: Collection of Casino Debts Spurs Suits.

The Act spells out what outside debt collectors can and cannot do. Some are obvious, such as not threatening violence. Others are more complicated and technical, such as normally not making phone calls after 9: A debt collector who makes a mistake is violating federal law. First, of course, there is the money. Legal gaming operations directly lend billions of dollars each year to their patrons, and have to chase down hundreds of millions of dollars that are not paid back in time.

The National Gambling Impact Study Commission, created by Congress, asked me to do a study in on credit and the casino industry. This does not include personal checks written directly to the casinos or to others, or, most importantly, patrons' use of credit cards, ATMs or other forms of credit used to get cash to gamble. Most patrons were able to pay off most of their loans by the end of their trips and the markers were canceled as paid in full.

For some, however, luck was not as kind. Most of this money was recovered through the normal procedure of depositing the markers for collection through the banking system: Successful collection agencies, I might add. Obviously some of these bum markers are from people who cannot pay. But some of this money is owed by people who, for one reason or another, simply refuse. Casinos sometimes have to sue their former best patrons. Or they sell the debt to an outside collection agency, which then files a lawsuit.

But gambling debts are not always collectable in a court of law. What's a debt collector to do? Today's state-licensed casinos do not break kneecaps. In fact, in states like Nevada there are detailed regulations covering how gaming debts may be collected. But if the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act applies, casinos are opening themselves to civil damages and fines if they don't strictly comply with federal technical requirements as well.

Any debt collector subject to the Act may be liable for actual damages suffered by a person as a result of the "abusive" collection practices. It is obviously hard to put a dollar figure on being awakened at, say, three o'clock in the morning. But violators are also exposing themselves up to class actions. The answer is probably not. The federal law is limited to companies whose primary business is debt collection.

The business that is owed the money is usually not subject to the Act, unless it does something stupid, like using a phony name. Pro ruled that Caesars Palace could not be sued for alleged violations of the Act, because Caesars Palace was trying to collect debts owed to it by a patron.

It was not acting as a debt collector for some other company. The one potential problem was that, legally, "Caesars Palace" does not exist. The actual company name is Desert Palace, which is doing business as dba "Caesars Palace. The judge said this was O. So, at least in Nevada, when casinos using their own name go after deadbeat patrons, they cannot be sued under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press , the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at fscobe optonline. What should daily fantasy sports do now? Gambling and the Law: