Better Bankroll Management with Casino Credit

Casino Credit can be a great tool for managing your bankroll when you are on a gambling trip. It helps you avoid the problems associated with traveling with large sums of money through the airport, and lessens the fear of getting mugged and losing everything. But it does come with a few dangers of its own. For example, if you have trouble managing your ATM card or paying off your monthly credit card bills then casino credit is probably not for you.

There’s an old saying about not writing checks you can’t cash. And when you use casino credit that is exactly what you are doing; writing a check. When a casino approves a credit account for you, what they are really doing is extending complimentary check cashing privileges. Markers, the “tender” of casino credit, are nothing more than counter checks or sight drafts drawn against your bank account. Casinos prefer that you settle all of your markers at the end of your stay. As a courtesy, casinos will hold the markers for thirty days before depositing them. However, players are expected to clear all markers before they become due. No, they’re not going to cancel your credit line if you hold off to day twenty-nine before paying or let them deposit the check thirty days down the road. Players “float” on casino money all the time. They may even grant you an extension to 60 or 90 days if you run short of funds and need a little more time to pay. But the key to successfully utilizing casino credit is to never get into that position.

If you feel uncomfortable using casino credit, there is another option. It’s called front money. You can contact the casino’s credit department and arrange to deposit bank or traveler’s checks with the cage prior to your arrival, or deposit cash when you get to the casino. Then, you play against that deposit at the tables. You take markers to draw against your front money just as casino credit customers do. You receive all of the benefits of the credit customer, but you have the peace of mind of knowing that your losses, if any, are already covered. If you have any doubt about your ability to manage a casino credit account – front money is the way to go.

Applying for casino credit is not that complicated. Contact any casinos credit department and they’ll be happy to assist you. However, don’t contact everybody at once. Casinos are on the look-out for players opening credit lines at multiple properties over a short period of time. They assume that you’re planning to “kite” a few markers and live on the float – a time honored tradition for many in Vegas. The casinos are onto this trick, though, so it’s best not to even go there.

If you still want to have credit at a lot of different properties there are ways to achieve this without multiple credit application submissions. For example, if you have a credit line with one Boyd Gaming property in Nevada you have credit with all of them. This is true with many of the corporate casino groups. Again, just contact the casino credit office and ask for more details.

Once you identify the casino you want to apply for credit with – ask for an application. They can mail or fax you a copy, or you can often complete one on their corporate website. In addition to your credit information, you’ll be asked to have your banker provide them with information on the average balance of the checking account you plan to use with your credit line. Typically they’ll look at the last six to twelve months’ balance. The credit line offered will be in line with that balance.

If you are concerned that the casino’s credit application is going to show up on your major credit reports – don’t be. Virtually all of the Nevada based casinos use Central Credit in Las Vegas for their credit reporting. Central Credit is owned by Las Vegas-based Global Cash Access Holdings Inc., which is best known for operating ATM machines in casinos around the nation and in foreign countries. They also serve as a check cashing pre-approval source for its subscribers. Central Credit operates almost exclusively for the benefit of the casino industry.

Once your casino credit account is approved you’ll have to visit the cage when you get to the casino, present a photo ID and your players card and complete a signature card, much the same as when opening a bank account. Once the cage has that information to complete their file they make an entry in the computer system activating the account. In most cases you can then take a marker immediately. You could do it at the cage, but to get the impact you’re looking for from the pit – it’s best to take the marker at the table.

Simply step up to your table of choice, present your players club card and photo ID and ask for a marker for however much money you want to draw. A floor person will be called over to complete the marker and have you sign it. This is typically a three-part form printed by the pit clerk. Once signed, one copy is deposited in the drop box, one remains with the pit clerk and the third copy goes directly to the cage.

Most casinos won’t do a marker for less than $500. A marker for $1000 is more common. And remember, just because you ask for $1000 does not mean you should change your betting strategy. If you typically buy in for $500 then put the additional $500 in the back rack and play with the $500 in the front rack.

You can also set daily limits on yourself when establishing credit. For example, while I have $5000 credit lines at several casinos, I set the accounts up so the most I can draw on any given day is $1000. Frankly, if I’ve lost $1000 in one day the last thing I need is someone giving me more money to play with until I get some time away from the tables and get my head back on straight.

If you settle your marker at the cage at the end of your trip the cage will return their copy of the paid marker to you. Most players simply tear the markers up and drop them in the trash by the cage. I prefer to take mine home and shred them in my office. If you do tear the marker up in the casino, make sure your signature on the marker is completely obliterated. One less opportunity for identity thieves to scam you.

My experience with casino credit has been that the pit looks at you differently if you have a credit line with the house. They view you as a “serious” player and not just another loser with a couple of hundred bucks to blow on Saturday night. Suddenly all of your play is rated. Comps – especially discretionary comps – often become easier to obtain. You may even get less heat at the tables. All in all, casino credit can be a great weapon in your money management arsenal – IF you use it judiciously.