If any business carries an obvious "buyer beware" label, the casino industry is it. Those who patronize these places either have money to burn, or they don't. But until recently, Pennsylvania casinos weren't in the business of extending direct credit. Now they are.
What changed? My colleague Monica Yant Kinney wrote an excellent column yesterday about how the rush to make money from casinos - both among their owners and state officials - has caused Pennsylvania to reneg on an important commitment that politicians made to protect families and communities from the fallout associated with problem gambling. Now, new rules allow casinos to offer cash advances for as much as 45 days - advances known as "markers" in the gambling world and to the rest of us as loans:
Casino credit - instant fun money - is now available on your favorite gaming floor. Forget payday lenders, boring banks or credit unions. Parx and Harrah's let you smoke, and they offer free booze. Even better? Whatever you borrow from the casino is interest-free!
Some of you may recall politicians bragging that they'd never allow anything as scurrilous as on-the-spot loans from an industry that profits so handsomely from customers' bum investments. The same legislators also said the state would stick with slots. They lied.