Take Credit Where Credit is Given! - Part 2 by Frank Scoblete
Last issue I talked about the benefits of getting a credit line with a casino. Now I’ll discuss exactly how to get that credit line. Easy! Just call your favorite casino and ask them to send you a credit application. Most casinos in a given venue use similar forms. In Vegas, the forms tend to be modest. They’ll ask for your name, address, phone, social security number and the bank account you’ll use for your credit line.
On the other hand, Atlantic City desires more information. Most casinos there will want to know your full name, address, phone number, where you work or if you’re self-employed, your yearly income, your outstanding indebtedness, the name of your bank, and the account you want to write your markers against. Some Atlantic City casinos will go one step further and ask to know your net worth.
You’ll then sign a release form which will allow the casino’s credit checkers to make sure you have enough money in the specified account to pay back the amount of the credit you’re requesting. This is an important item. When you apply make sure you have more than enough in one account to fully cover the entire line of credit you want!
The casinos will then do a credit check to make sure you’re a good risk. The whole process takes about a week. What are your chances of being turned down?
Stated one casino credit manager who wished to remain nameless: "I’d say that approximately three-fourths of the people who ask for credit get it. The only area where there might be some difference of opinion between us and the patron is on how much credit we should give. First time credit applications are often for sums that we feel might be a little too high. If someone asks for $10,000, we might say ‘Let us give you $5,000 and we can readjust that figure in the future.’ The people we turn down are usually people who just have a history of not paying their bills. Remember we’re giving a loan for up to six weeks with no interest and we want to make sure we’re going to get that money back."
What percentage of the money borrowed by players is not returned? The figure varies from casino to casino and state to state, and is a closely guarded secret, but I estimate that less than three percent of the total money borrowed by credit players is not paid back in a timely fashion.
HOW TO TAKE A MARKER
Once your credit is approved, your next trip to the casino will probably see you take out your first "marker." A marker is a promissory note that can be drawn directly against your bank account. In fact, it looks like an oversized generic check, which is exactly what it is.
Once you’re at the table of your choice, you’ll say to the dealer: "I’d like to take out a marker, please." The floorperson will be called over and he or she will ask you, "For how much?" Once you tell the floorperson how much you want, you’ll probably be asked for your player’s card. In such a case, the casino floorperson will fill out most of the information on a marker form and ask you to sign it. If you don’t hand in a player’s card, or if the casino is very busy, the floorperson will give you a small sheet of paper where you’ll write your name, address, phone number, the name of your bank, and how much you want to take out. Then you’ll sign your name.
It usually takes two to five minutes for the marker to arrive. When it does, you’ll sign it and the floorperson will put it on the table and the dealer will count out the appropriate number of chips (credit players in Las Vegas will get the chips even before the marker arrives). Slot players will usually do their transactions at the cashier’s cage.
That’s it, you’re in the game. It’s a lot faster than the ATMs and a lot more economical.
PAYING THE PIPER
How and when you pay back your marker is a product of luck at the tables or machines. It is customary to pay back all the money you borrowed at the end of your trip if you won. If you don’t pay after a winning stay, it is considered a very bad thing called "walking with the chips." Casinos frown upon players who "walk" because they feel (rightly) that not only have you won money from them at the tables (fair and square) but you’ve taken a loan that now will get you interest for however long it sits in your account before the marker is redeemed (unfair and not square). Some high-rolling, self-employed businessfolk have attempted to use their casino credit lines as short-term business loans at no interest. If casinos discover you doing this, they will not only cut off your credit, they’ll say bad things about you behind your back -- and you won’t get credit at other casinos when the word gets out that you’re a "walker." So never walk with the chips.
How much time do casinos give you to pay the piper? If you borrowed up to $1,000, you usually have seven days to pay up. If you borrowed between $1,001 and $5,000, you usually have 14 days; and if you borrowed $5,001 or more, you have between 30 and 45 days. Each state will have slightly different timetables but the above is representative.
But what if you borrowed $1,001 and only (only?) lost $500 of it? Here you have a choice. You can pay back the $500 that is left and wait the two weeks for the casino to collect the rest, or you can simply write a check for the other $500 on the spot. (Some casinos want first-time credit players to do this until it is firmly established that they are not risks.)
WHY CASINOS GIVE CREDIT
We know why players would want to get credit, but why would casinos want to give it? Some players believe that casinos give out credit as a part of a plot to get them to play for bigger money than they can afford and for longer periods of time than they should. Although this is not the reason casinos give out credit, it is a pitfall players should be aware of and is the one big downside to casino credit. Your credit line should be in keeping with your budget. Don’t take out a $10,000 credit line if you are a five-dollar player with a gambling bankroll of $500. The temptation to plunge into your credit line for more might just prove too great to resist on a bad day or night.
Casinos give out credit as a customer service, a loyalty inducer, and a convenience. Players should be aware that markers are money in the bank -- your bank -- and while they are interest free, they aren’t obligation free. Should you lose in the casino, you will be expected to pay back what you borrowed. Make sure you can afford to do so.
But given the other alternatives of carrying wads of cash and/or borrowing from those bent-nosed ATM loansharks in the lobby, establishing casino credit is the intelligent way to go.