There are occasional news pieces about how debtors’ prisons are making a comeback in the United States. The primary reason is municipalities that fine poor people for minor violations that they have no hope of paying, e.g. moving violations. For Las Vegas debtors—or those visiting our city—one increasingly disturbing problem that can land people in a Clark County jail are gambling debts.
The story that prompted the discussion is of Joey Porter, who had a 13-year NFL career as a linebacker with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals. Porter was arrested in Bakersfield, CA for the felony of writing a bad check, based on a warrant issued by Nevada’s own Clark County. This wasn’t a small sum of money; rather, it was a $70,000 debt to Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Casino. Porter apparently visited the casino, went into the hole, and borrowed money from the house, a debt referred to as a “marker.”
What especially irked op-ed columnist to the International Business Times and former gambler Adam Resnick is that the casino went to the trouble of enforcing this debt through the city’s justice system. According to Resnick, the Clark County District Attorney’s Office bad check unit functions as a collection agency for the casinos. Like the drivers forced to spend time in jail for violations they’re too poor to pay, the city makes a good income, 10 percent of all commissions on recovered markers, on its collections efforts.
Although a bad check is a bad check, and those who write them should be punished, in the normal course of affairs, Hard Rock could have simply sued Porter in state court to enforce judgment. Instead, it is content to make people like him sit in jail until they can write a check the casino can cash.
What happens if you’re in debt to a casino and can’t afford to pay it because you’re not a retired football star who made $30 million in his career? Contact an experienced Las Vegas bankruptcy lawyer to see if filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy will work for you. It certainly beats going to jail.
For more questions about bankruptcy in Las Vegas, please feel free to contact an experienced Haines & Krieger Las Vegas bankruptcy attorney for a free initial consultation. Call us at 1-702-880-5554 to set up your free consultation.