You can get in big trouble in the “Biggest Little City in the World” if you try to cheat your way to riches in one of Reno's many casinos.
There are many crimes that take place in Reno's casinos that could happen anywhere in the city - prostitution, battery, public intoxication, and pickpocketing just to name a few.
However, two crimes which are specifically related to casinos and gambling that both visitors and residents of Reno and Lake Tahoe should be aware of are:
- Casino Marker Default
If you take out a casino marker from a Reno or Lake Tahoe casino – essentially a no-interest line of credit extended so you can gamble – your failure to pay it back can land you in jail. The road to a conviction under Nevada casino marker laws is as follows:
- Usually, the terms of casino markers require that they are paid back within 30 days. If the gambler fails to pay back the casino within that time, the casino will send them a notice and demand by certified mail advising that they have 10 days since the date of the mailing to pay the debt.
- If the debt is not paid within that 10-day period, the casino can report the default to the Washoe County District Attorney's office and ask them to prosecute the gambler.
- The district attorney will send another 10-day demand for payment, tacking on additional collection fees on to the original debt. At this point, payment must be made to the district attorney, not the casino.
- If the debt is not paid to the district attorney's office, they will ask a judge to issue a warrant for your arrest.
- Defaulting on a Reno casino marker can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the amount of the marker:
- If the marker was less than $650, it will be charged as a misdemeanor with penalties that include fines of up to $1,000, and/or a maximum six months in jail
- If the amount of the unpaid marker is $650 or more, it will be treated as a category D felony in Nevada, which carries a sentence upon conviction of a mandatory one to four years in Nevada state prison, an optional $5,000 fine, mandatory administrative fees, and mandatory full restitution of the outstanding casino marker debt.
- Cheating at Gambling
Cheating at gambling in a Reno casino is a crime. (NRS 465.083). “Cheating” is broadly defined under the law and the number of “fraudulent acts” that are prohibited is long. (NRS 465.015, 465.070). Additionally, just attempting to cheat or participating in a conspiracy to cheat is also a criminal offense.
Cheating at gambling is a category B felony in Nevada. A first offense carries a punishment of:
- 1-6 years in Nevada State Prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines, AND
- restitution to the casino
If you have been charged with either defaulting on a casino marker or cheating at gambling in a Reno casino, there are defenses available that a skilled Reno/Tahoe criminal defense attorney can assert on your behalf. Please give us a call to discuss your situation.