Casino credit is a commonly misunderstood topic in the gaming world. Some of its benefits are unknown by many gamblers and the process of obtaining and using credit can seem burdensome. For the right person, casino credit saves a lot of time, money and increases your safety when traveling. For the wrong person, casino credit greatly increases the chances of overspending. In worst case scenarios, it could even create legal issues. Let’s run through the most common questions gamblers have about casino credit.
The Pros of Casino Credit
When making any decision in life, there are pros and cons that should be considered before taking the plunge. In the case of casino credit, each individual will have to weigh these factors based on their own proclivities and determine if it is beneficial to them. Some of the advantages of casino credit include:
- No need to carry large sums of cash (via air, car, or even within the casino)
- No ATM fees, no check cashing fees, no daily limits, no delays in access to your own money
- No Cash Transaction Reports (CTRs) at higher level play
- Repayment is typically 15-30 days after you leave
- You are on the casino’s radar, which may increase upfront comps and/or host availability
Carrying large amounts of cash, whether it be through the airport or even around the casino, is never a fun process. It is risky in some ways, dangerous in others. If a player is seen withdrawing a large sum of cash from a casino ATM, or leaving the cage with a large credit card advance, they immediately open themselves up to potential issues with undesired patrons who may see them as a target. A lot of this can be avoided by taking markers at the table and repaying these markers at the table and depositing any proceeds at the cage.
With a casino credit line, you will never pay any cash access fees again. Your agreed upon credit line will be available for use, in full, at any time during your trip. CTRs must be filed by the casino when over $10,000 in cash is exchanged in a single day; however, markers are not included in these totals, as no actual cash is being introduced by the player. Although this isn’t a concern for most people, it can slow down your day and cause hiccups down the road for nothing.
Casino credit at a property can, and typically will, put you in contact with a casino host once your line is opened. This is money the casino knows you have available to spend on property, and they are more likely to assist you with requests when they know the exact dollar amount available to them.
The Cons of Casino Credit
Casino credit is a winning proposition for many people; however, there are certain things that players must know in advance that may dissuade them from opening a credit line. Rather than bullet pointing, let’s talk more at length about these items.
Immediate availability of cash – For most people, immediate access to their cash is a pro (not a con); however, for gamblers with a proclivity for overspending, or those who have trouble stopping, credit could be disastrous. No longer would it require a stroll to the ATM or the Cage, forcing a break in your action and chance to reflect on where you are. Markers can and will be issued within seconds, not minutes, and this is very bad for problem gamblers. Do you need to think about putting more cash on the table? If so, don’t open casino credit.
Repayment requirements – Does your bank account balance fluctuate significantly? Is the amount you requested for your line of credit above what you would readily have available to repay? If there is any chance you are not going to be able to repay a marker within the prescribed time (15-30 days based on the casino), then do not open credit. Failure to repay a marker in Nevada is a Class D Felony and carries with it prison time and large penalties. Usually, casinos will work you on a payment plan to avoid this drastic step, but it is critical that you always have funds available to repay any money that you temporarily borrow.
Freedom of play – One thing many credit players do not consider is that when they only have credit available and didn’t bring cash with them, bouncing up and down the strip becomes more difficult. Casinos will not permit you to take a marker and walk with it to another property. There are expectations that any money borrowed will be exclusively played at that casino and that any markers will be paid off before you cash your chips.
Applying for Casino Credit
Ok, so you made it past the pros and cons and casino credit makes sense for you! So the obvious next question is, how do I open a credit line with my favorite property? It’s actually fairly easy, and typically takes about one week to complete the whole process. Almost all casinos will have a link to their credit application directly on their website. This is the standard way to apply for credit. The credit application will verify everything from your personal identification, to your employment info including income, your bank account information, and the amount of credit you are requesting.
Once this form is submitted electronically, they will complete a hard pull on your credit. Your credit is a good tool for them to understand your likelihood to repay, and may also show if you are too far extended to support further credit. If the credit pull looks good, they will verify your bank account balances with any financial institutions that you included on your application. This step will never be skipped, and they are typically looking at your three, six and 12-month average balance. A good rule of thumb is to never request credit more than 50% of what your average balance is.
Casino credit is unique to the property you applied for. For example, if you apply for credit at Planet Hollywood, that credit account can not be accessed at other Caesar’s properties like Harrah’s or The Cromwell. You would need to apply individually at each property you are interested in. They would verify your credit and banking just as the first property did.
Also worth noting, each casino will have their own minimum credit line they will consider. Although Wynn requires a minimum of $5,000, many smaller/ local properties will allow $1,000. These minimums will be clearly stated on the credit application within the area you input your requested amount.
Once your application has been processed in full, you may receive an email confirming your approval (you likely won’t), but you will need to stop by the cage or credit desk upon arrival at the property to activate your credit line. They will scan your ID, you will sign a couple forms, and your line will be activated. It’s that easy.
Taking a Marker
So credit has been approved, you have signed your paperwork, and now you are ready to get some of your money to play with. This process is called “taking a marker”. The marker itself is the name of the document that you are signing, guaranteeing you will repay the funds. It is treated the same as a check, and will be deposited as a check if you do not repay your funds within the promised time. If you are a table games player, you will request a marker directly at the table. Upon arrival, provide your players card (and potentially your ID), and simply state “I need a marker for $xx dollars please”. The dealer will get assistance from the floor supervisor (or boxman at the craps table) and that person will check on the computer to make sure your credit line is open, and how much you have available. Once confirmed, they will place lamers on the table confirming the amount you are taking, and the dealer at that point will send the funds in your direction. Within a few minutes, the floor supervisor/box will bring you the actual marker to sign for processing.
If you are a slot player, taking a marker typically means visiting the casino cashier and requesting a marker for your slot action. They will confirm how much you would like, and typically present you a slot ticket with that amount on it (rather than handing you cash). As with table markers, there is an expectation that you will use this money solely for gambling within their establishment and that all markers would be paid off before cashing out proceeds.
Redeeming Markers at the Table
If you are a table games player and you took a marker at the table, you may need to redeem that marker when you color up. If you are looking to leave the table with more than your marker amount, it would be frowned upon to leave the table without attempting to redeem your marker. In most Las Vegas properties, markers stay at that pit until the end of that shift and then are transferred to the main cage. In other locations, markers may be immediately transferred to the cage and table redemptions are not available. When coloring up, simply ask your dealer/floor if you can redeem the marker you took at the table. If they can, they will pull that much in chips to the side, place lamers on top of that amount to confirm the redemption, and they will retrieve the marker you signed and give it back to you (to discard). The process typically takes a few minutes for the pit clerk to find your paperwork.
Redeeming Markers at the Cage
Redeeming markers at the cage is the same process as at the tables. They will confirm the physical marker is located on deposit in the cage and then set aside the chips necessary to pay off that marker. Markers can be paid at the cage with either chips or cash. They will hand you the physical marker you signed upon payment for disposal.
Payments After Departure
Did you leave the property and have $2,500 in markers opened but unpaid upon departure? No problem. The casino will send you a statement, typically via email depending on preference, confirming your balance owed, their payment instructions and the date the payment is due. You can always ask for the markers to be deposited on the account provided at setup. Alternatively, you are welcome to wire in the funds or mail a check from a different account. Either way, the markers should be cleared by the due date, or contact the property to make alternative arrangements. Avoiding repayment of the markers is the absolute worst thing you can do. All casinos will work with you if you are having problems, but you need to notify them as early as possible.
Exceeding Your Credit Line (TTO)
If you have reached your maximum credit line approved and still want to take out additional funds, your casino host or the credit manager may be able to approve a marker TTO. This acronym stands for This Trip Only. This would be a one-time allowance above your approved credit. I have only experienced this once with a lower level property, but this is not something I would ever rely upon. It is fully at their discretion and approval would be based on your average bank account balance and the amount of your credit line.
Credit Line Expiration
Casinos typically will inactivate your credit after 6 months or so without use. If you exceed this window and want to reactivate your credit, you can typically contact the casino in advance of your trip and have it turned back on without all the fuss of the original application. Being proactive with this is much easier than just showing up at the casino after a year and requesting a marker. Some casinos may also want to re-verify your bank information annually for their records. Depending on their bank, they may require your assistance during this process. It typically never takes more than five minutes to complete the call.
Wrap it up…
So we talked about the good and bad of credit, how to apply, how to take markers, and how to pay them back. Hopefully this article takes some of the intimidation away from the casino credit process. It can be very beneficial for players if used correctly, so consider applying before your next trip!