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CASINO MARKERS -- WORKING THE SYSTEM  
BY:  Alan Mendelson

You don't have to be a high roller to get a casino credit line in Vegas or at casinos around the country, including many Indian casinos. Credit lines are open to all players (gamblers) and frankly, a credit line at a casino can be a very good thing to have.  
The first reason for having a credit line is personal security. With a credit line you do not have to carry cash to a casino, and you also don't have to worry about writing and cashing checks, or using ATM cards. Keep in mind that many casinos have high ATM fees, with some casino ATM machines charging $4 or $5 per transaction, in addition to a foreign ATM fee that your own bank might charge. Some banks charge $2 for using an ATM from another institution, including casino ATM's.  
 
With a casino credit line, you ask for a "marker" (which is in effect a cash advance) either at the cage (the casino cashier) or at the table where you wish to play. Usually you have to establish your casino credit in advance. Most casinos will send you a credit application through the mail, or you can access a credit application on most casino websites. Casinos will grant you a credit line equal to the amount of cash you regularly have in your checking account or other bank account. Casinos might check your overall credit file, but this is not necessarily a rule. Sometimes your casino credit line will show up on your general credit file, and sometimes it will not. Most casinos will check with a central casino credit organization to see if you have credit accounts at other casinos and to make sure your accounts are in good standing, and that your credit lines do not exceed your ability to pay.  
 
If you are planning a trip to a casino, and you want to have a credit line, it's a good idea to apply for the account a couple of weeks in advance.  
 
Credit lines, and markers (a marker is what an IOU is called in a casino), are given to players so they can make bets. Unlike a cash advance on a MasterCard or Visa credit card, a casino credit line is not to be used to buy a piece of jewelry in a gift shop, or to make your next car or mortgage payment. (But we've heard of stories where players have done just that-- taken out a marker of several thousand dollars in cash claiming they were going to play slot machines, when in fact they were taking the cash out of the casino to make a car payment.)  
 
Casinos want to protect themselves against players who take out markers but don't gamble, so if you go to the cage to cash in chips, you might be asked if you have any outstanding markers? The cashier might also ask for your ID and check your credit account to see if you do have any outstanding markers. At most casinos, if you cash chips worth $1,000 or more, they will ask about markers. Sometimes they will ask about markers if you cash in $500 chips. If you are trying to "hide" your markers, then only cash in $100 or "black" chips (black is generally the color designated for $100 chips), and cash them in small amounts.  
 
One of the best advantages for using markers and casino credit is that there is no interest on the marker or loan, and most casinos will give you a full thirty days to pay your marker with no interest and no cash transaction fees. You can't get a deal like that with any credit card!  
 
We were curious to find out what would happen if you could not pay your marker within 30 days? What would happen?  
 
We checked with several major casinos in Las Vegas and were told that if a player had a problem paying his markers within 30 days, the casino might be able to give the player various types of assistance.  
 
The "help" is always on a case-by-case basis. First, the casino will want to verify that the player did indeed lose money gambling, and did not take a marker for a purpose outside the casino-- such as that car payment idea. Second, if the player has had a good history of play and paying back markers in the past, the player might be granted additional time to pay the marker-- and we were told the extra time would be granted with zero interest.  
 
But keep in mind that when you sign a marker you are in fact signing a check that can be used to draw money out of your bank account-- so a marker is not a free ride and it is a legal and financial obligation.  
 
Just remember the important points: it's better to borrow the casino's cash to gamble than to use your own; it's safer to get your cash from the cage or from the table game, than to carry the cash to the casino from home; it's cheaper to use a marker than to use the ATM.  
 
But taking out a marker is taking out a loan-- and it's money you must be able to repay, win or lose in the casino.  
 
Copyright 2006 - Alan Mendelson - used with permission
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