Former NFL Running Back Sued For Gambling Debt

Former NFL running back Clinton Portis is facing a lawsuit over past due casino markers in Las Vegas.

It is no secret that two of my favorite things are football and gambling. Thankfully, former NFL running back Clinton Portis’s recent legal woes provides a perfect opportunity to write about both.

Apparently, the two-time Pro Bowler and 2002 NFL Rookie of the Year had to go to the well a few too many times at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas. The MGM recently sued Portis in Clark County, Nevada for two unpaid markers or short-term, zero to low interest loans, totaling $10,000. The casino is seeking the $10,000 plus $1,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees.

Although $10,000 is a relatively low amount for a Vegas casino marker, if there is one lesson I learned after spending a few years living in Las Vegas it is that Vegas will always get its money back — always.

According to the Courthouse News Service, MGM claims Portis received two “negotiable credit instruments known as markers,” worth more than $10,000, on Jan. 31, 2011. The casino says the markers “were presented through normal banking channels for payment” on Portis’ bank account, but they were “returned dishonored and unpaid.” MGM Grand allegedly sent a written demand by certified mail on March 26, 2011 to collect on its debt, but Portis has refused to pay.

Notably, in Nevada, failure to repay casino markers can lead to both civil and criminal penalties.

The state treats markers as bad checks. So not only can the lender sue you for failing to pay a debt, but the local D.A. could elect to prosecute for defrauding the casino.

In order for a Nevada court to convict someone of defaulting on casino markers, the prosecutor has to prove the following: That you willfully and with an intent to defraud took out a casino marker when you had insufficient money in your bank account to pay for it. What is shocking is that Nevada law automatically presumes you had intent to defraud if there were insufficient funds in your bank account when the casinos tried to redeem the markers.

Therefore, according to the Las Vegas Defense Group, the only real evidence that Nevada courts require a prosecutor to produce in order to show you had intent to defraud and to convict you of unpaid casino markers are the following slips of paper:

a copy of the original marker, and a copy of the marker once the casino tried unsuccessfully to redeem it at your bank (stamped NSF for “not sufficient funds”).

At this point, it would appear that Portis has plenty of money to repay the marker and had that money back in 2011. This is simply a matter of Portis not wanting to repay the casino loan. Although Portis will likely never face criminal charges, he should feel thankful that Vegas casinos are using the civil court system to collect debts, rather than wise guys like Nicky Santoro.

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