Ted Forrest Is Being Prosecuted for Unpaid Markers at the Wynn Las Vegas
William “Ted” Forrest, a professional poker player who has won 6 World Series of Poker bracelets and collected millions of dollars in winnings, is being prosecuted in Las Vegas for debts he owes to the Wynn Las Vegas. Forrest’s lawyer claims the case should be in civil court, but Forrest’s debts are instead being tried as a criminal case.
The case involves $215,000 worth of “markers”, a kind of IOU that casinos give to high rollers as a form of credit. Chris Rasmussen, who is representing Ted Forrest, said of the markers, “It was a loan. He didn’t commit a crime. They sent him to the bank to open a $100 bank account. They knew he didn’t have the money. And now they take years to prosectute.”
7-Month Period in 2012-13
The debts were incurred from October 2012 to May 2013. Under Nevada state law, the court system treats unpaid markers like bad checks. If a person does not pay, then he or she faces the same charges one would for writing hot checks. Nevada’s 1995 marker law has been used as a model by other US states when crafting their gaming laws.
Ted Forrest appeared in a Las Vegas court on Thursday. The judge in the case allowed the 51-year old poker pro to remain free without bail, pending an October 18 preliminary hearing. The hearing is set to determine whether the case will be tried in a state court. If convicted of both charges, Ted Forrest could be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison.
Challenges to Nevada Gaming Law
Last year, a Los Angeles high roller challenged the marker law in Nevada courts. The case was brought in 2013, but ended up on appeal before the Nevada Supreme Court in 2015. The court rejected the appeal, meaning gambling have to pay unpaid debts or face jail time. The 1995 law also allows prosecutors to collect a 10% “processing and prosecution fee” with any settlement. Some legal experts have challenged the legality of a “prosecution fee”, which seems to mix civil and criminal law.
Others believe that public taxes and services should not be used to collect private debts. People speak of the debtors prisons of the 18th and 19th centuries as a time of barbarity, but that is exactly what Ted Forrest appears to face.
About Ted Forrest
Television viewers who have watched the World Series of Poker broadcasts on ESPN over the years have seen Ted Forrest in action. Forrest has spent significant time during his poker career as a cash-game specialist, meaning he was not on television all the years that Texas Hold’em was becoming a mainstream game.
In 1993, Ted Forrest won 3 World Series of Poker bracelets. The events he won were Omaha Hi-Lo Split, Seven Card Stud, and Razz. He retired from tournament events until 2004, when Forrest made his triumphant return to the WSOP. He won two WSOP events that year: one in a Seven Card Stud event and one in a No Limit Hold’em event.
Ted Forrest’s Poker Feats
In 1996, Forrest won the National Heads-up Championship, beating in succession Erik Seidel, Chad Brown, Ernie Dureck, Sam Farha, Shahram Sheikhan, and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson. In 2007, he defeated T.J. Liu in the longest heads-up contest in the history of the World Poker Tour — and collected $1,100,000.
Ted Forrest collected his sixth WSOP bracelet in 2014, when he won a WSOP Razz event. Notable player Phil Hellmuth Jr. sat at that final table. Forrest’s career earnings are $6,200,000, which makes the $210,000 debt to the Las Vegas Wynn particurly disappointing and sad. For him to be unable to pay his markers, Ted Forrest must have lost all his tournament winnings over the years.
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