If you’ve ever gambled in a casino, you know its easy to get carried away and lose big money. No one knows that more than Terrance Watanabe, a Nebraska businessman who blew through $200 Million in 2007 at two Vegas casinos – The Rio and Caesar’s Palace, both operated by Harrah’s Entertainment. That is not a typo – $207 Million is the actual figure this idiot went through in 2007.
The last $15 Million was on credit – he gave the casino a “marker” in return for the dough. (If you don’t know the term “marker” you need to watch “Guys and Dolls” again). He then reneged on the marker and claimed that he should not be responsible for it since the casino convinced him to take up actual residence in the casino and kept him plied with alcohol and prescription meds all year. So the casino has to sue him, right? Wrong! Nevada law makes a marker the equivalent of a check and therefore reneging on a marker is the equivalent of passing a bad check- a crime.
That’s right, not only did this bozo blow the GDP of a small country HE GOT ARRESTED! He now faces 20 years in prison. Clark County prosecutors are only too happy to bring these cases because under the law the office KEEPS TEN PERCENT of whatever they collect for the casino! Sorry for the allcaps but this is RIDICULOUS!
This does not seem right to me. Why should this multi-national corporation be allowed to use the services of the public office of District Attorney as its strongarm debt collector? Never mind the greed of going after $14 million after the guy blew over $200 million, but shouldn’t it be on them to collect their debt? Also, what debt collector has the power of incarceration in their bag of trick s to ensure collection: “Pay up and you won’t go to jail” is even better than “Pay up or I’ll break your legs.”
This law creates a conflict with the DA’s office that is hard to reconcile. If one person has a better explanation for why they can’t pay it back, but another who is a pure deadbeat but can have his family make restitution, then the DA may offer a better deal to the deadbeat and punish the other person for his inability to pay. We did away with debtor’s prison here in the US years ago. This seems to create a class of debtor inmates.
Also, passing a bad check requires you to know that the check is not going to clear for it to be criminal conduct; what if you genuinely believed you could pay the marker back at the time you gave it to the casino? And if the casino took it without checking into your ability to pay it back, why is that still a crime instead of a bad business deal?
This law seems ill advised and could open the door to criminalizing civil law violations in other areas. Yes, DAs should be allowed to keep forfeited property that is the proceeds of a crime, but the DA should not be turned into a collection agency for a casino that let its patron run amok.