Is it legal for casinos to accept credit cards?

I’d understood that you can’t legally collect gambling debts, so gambling should be strictly pay as you go.

The ones I have been to don’t accept credit cards directly. However they do make it very easy for you to get a cash advance from your credit card.

My casino won’t let you gamble with your card (place a bet directly) but you can certainly cash advance it, as stated above.

Just to add, I have no idea if it is a matter of law or of regulation. Everything in New Jersey has to go through the state Casino Control Commission.

I think the REAL reason they only take cash advances is because the credit card people make so much more money from them. I have 1.9% interest credit cards but the cash advance on those cards is 21%. It makes sense to charge all casino purchases as cash for the credit card people. Though I can see the non enforcement of gambling debt thing too.

Why would the casino owners care how much money the CC companies make?

Exactly- the real reason is that the casino then has more money in THEIR bank. I seriously doubt they care how much the CC company makes. Most people at the point of cash advancing a credit card (IMHO) aren’t winners cleaning out the casino, you know?

The real reason that casinos don’t take credit cards is because of a couple of lawsuits regarding the legality of collecting credit card debt that resulted from gambling losses. In one case a woman was sued by her card companies and she countersued, saying the debts were the result of an illegal activity and thus unenforceable. Here’s another from a couple of years later. The card companies collectively decided that the hassles associated with such suits outweighed the benefits and if they lost then they’d see more customers running up uncollectable debt, so they blocked the merchant codes for gambling establishments.

Interestingly, at least one online poker site, FullTilt, still accepts credit card payments. The payment apparently goes into some sort of holding company account which then transfers it to FullTilt.

The last time I was at the Luxor, they had ATM-type machines that would allow you to take cash advances from a Visa or MasterCard, without any kind of PIN number.


I started checking for my wallet every 30 seconds after I saw that.

Both of the cases Otto cites are based on internet gambling. By contrast, casino gambling is clearly not illegal activity. I think every casino I’ve been in had a mechanism in place to allow you to take cash advances from your CC in order to place bets.

The trade magazines have talked about slot machines that let you insert your credit card. They’re illegal in Nevada, but I think they may be in use elsewhere.

Sure, you can take a cash advance at an ATM that’s housed in the casino, and you can walk to the nearest table and bet it. But you can’t buy chips with your credit card.

Every merchant is identified by type in the credit card system with a code called an MCC. All department stores in the world have the same MCC. All gas stations have the same MCC and so on. All “casinos and gambling establishments,” online and brick & mortar, have the same MCC. Cards can be set to automatically decline transactions initiated by merchants with a particular MCC. We’ve had issues with customers getting declined while trying to use their cards within casinos at a boutique or whatever because the MCC for the boutique within the casino complex is incorrectly set to the MCC for “casinos and gambling establishments.”

From the credit card companies point of view it would be foolish to allow direct purchase of chips with a credit card. What would prevent someone turning around and immediately exchanging the chips for cash, avoiding the cash advance fees, and gaining the advantage of the float on purchases?

Even if you forced players to bet the chips at least once before cashout, the cash advance fees are high enough so that if a player stuck to games where the house percentage was fairly low the player would still come out ahead of the credit card company more than he lost to the house.

Wow, I’m surprised no one has mentioned this. But it is a lot easier to skim cash than skim credit card receipts.

I work at a pari-mutuel facility. They’ll cut you a check, but they aren’t gonna take one. If a customer pays cash, they can’t call up the next day and scream “I never gave you that” or “it wasn’t me” or “Identity Theft!” Yeah, we have the cash advance machines too and ATM’s. But it is an almost 100 year old institution that has taken cash from day one.

The credit card companies wised up a bit on the gambling transactions. They instituted a much higher fee to recover the higher risk of default on people gambling. The plans I saw charged almost double the interest for cash withdrawals at casinos and charged a higher withdrawal fee too.

Given the number of non-gambling enterprises they typically house (bars, restaurants, live shows, hotels, etc.), I’d imagine that the casinso would squawk about this pretty quickly.

One more reason to only accept cash from cash advances is that the casino never has to get involved in disputed charges and the mess that can create for a business.
Plus, the casino would have to pay the merchant fee for accepting credit cards, thus reducing profits. With a cashadvance, the card holder effectively pays for that instead.

I imagine they do. We’re not the card issuer, just the administrator, so we have no control over how merchants are set up.