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Champion Boxer Arrested on Unpaid Marker Charges

Published on October 25, 2014, 4:32 pm

by Jeff Grant Twitter account Jeff Grant LinkedIn account

Boxing champion Antonio Tarver aka 'Magic Man'
Boxing champion Antonio Tarver aka 'Magic Man'

In Nevada, casino credit is sometimes extended to patrons in the form of an IOU, or marker. When casino patrons fail to repay their markers, the state treats it like a “bad check" case. World champion boxer Antonio Tarver made headlines recently when he was charged with felony theft due to $200,000 in unpaid markers at Wynn Las Vegas.

Tarver, a Tampa Bay resident, was pulled over by the Florida Highway Patrol for an unrelated traffic stop when officers discovered that the former Olympian had a bad check warrant hanging over his head. They arrested him and took him to jail. As of early March, the $215,425 bond charge had not been paid by the defendant or any of his representatives.

Unpaid markers do not always result in bad check charges in Nevada. Often, the indebted party pays the bill and the issue is dropped. In Tarver's case, however, the issue was not dropped. Las Vegas attorney Jake Merback has been appointed as prosecutor in Tarver's case. Tarver's bond is equal to the amount he owes plus processing and prosecution fees. It is unclear at this time how the champion boxer plans to handle this legal hurdle.

According to a Wynn source, Tarver racked up the $200,000 gambling debt back in the summer of 2012. His first $50,000 marker was withdrawn on July 24. His second marker, an additional $50,000, was withdrawn on July 26. His final marker, in the amount of $100,000, was withdrawn on July 27. Tarver failed to pay back the markers before leaving Wynn Las Vegas. When the casino tried to cash in his markers for the owed amount, the funds were absent from his account.

Interestingly, some of Tarver's notable boxing victories occurred at casinos. In December of 2007, he beat American opponent Danny Santiago at a Foxwoods Casino match in Massachusetts. In 2004, he beat Roy Jones, Jr. at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The four-day binge in which Tarver racked up the Wynn debt has not been linked to any professional boxing appearances.

Tarver is not just a world champion boxer; he is also an actor. In 2006, he starred alongside Sylvester Stallone in the movie Rocky VI, also known as Rocky Balboa. Stallone portrayed his usual Rocky character and Tarver played his rival competitor, Mason “The Line” Dixon. The film follows the story of Balboa as he enters retirement and pursues ownership of an Italian restaurant, aptly titled Adrian's. The movie was well-received by Rocky fans, and reviewers congratulated writer/director/star Stallone for a job well done.

On the set, Sylvester Stallone (Rocky Balboa) and Antonio Tarver (Mason “The Line” Dixon)
On the set, Sylvester Stallone (Rocky Balboa) and Antonio Tarver (Mason “The Line” Dixon)

How Casino Credit Works

Many casinos happily extend credit to patrons because it improves customer loyalty. A casino line of credit allows patrons to enjoy their gambling experience without having to carry cash with them. Casino credit is not for everybody; only those with the self-discipline to limit spending and manage money wisely should apply for a casino line of credit.

Applying for a casino line of credit is a lot like applying for a Visa or MasterCard. An approved application is required. Applications are often found on a casino's website as well as in the building itself. On the application, patrons specify the amount of credit they would like to receive. In general, a patron will not be granted a larger line of credit than the amount of cash in his or her referring bank account.

After a patron applies for credit, the casino runs a credit check and contacts the patron's bank. If the application is approved, the patron is then able to take out casino markers. A marker is a piece of paper, signed by the patron, that acts as a check to repay any "loan" he or she takes out. In the beginning, marker amounts tend to be on the smaller side. Like traditional credit, casino workers prefer to let a relationship of trust build before extending larger lines of credit to players.

A form of casino credit application (casino marker)
A form of casino credit application (casino marker)

How Markers Work

Markers can be used both for table games and slot machines. At the gaming table, the patron simply asks the dealer for a marker. A floor worker is then summoned to fill out the necessary paperwork on behalf of the patron. The marker is printed either in the pit or at the cage, then hand-delivered to the patron. The patron signs the marker and receives chips in the amount specified on the marker. Players who wish to use a marker for slots can obtain one either through a slot attendant or by visiting the casino cage. In general, the casino cage offers faster and more reliable service in this scenario.

How Casinos Get Marker Money Back

By signing a marker, a patron gives a casino the right to “cash” it like a check for the amount owed. This cash comes from the patron's private funds. If the private funds don't cover the amount owed, as was the case for Tarver, the marker becomes a fraudulent “check.” The casino then has the right to pursue legal action.

If a patron wins on the day he or she signs a marker, immediate repayment is expected. Typically, the full amount will need to be paid back to the casino within a specified amount of time. Amounts under $1,000 are usually due within a week. Amounts between $1,000 and $5,000 are usually due within two weeks. Amounts greater than $5,000 are usually due within 45 days. If the amount remains unpaid, the casino attempts to cash the marker. If cash isn't available, a fraudulent check charge could be issued.

Casino Credit: Handle With Care

Casino markers are meant to be a convenience for patrons, not a free loan. Danger inherently lies in the use of credit of any type. The system typically works as long as both parties uphold their end of the agreement. Unfortunately for Tarver and Wynn Las Vegas, this particular situation has not ended happily.


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