Criminal Justice

Gambler accused of failing to pay $12.9M in markers at Nevada casinos faces felony theft case

It isn’t just in the New York gambling subculture of the 1950s portrayed by Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra in Guys and Dolls that a high-roller who doesn’t make good on his marker is viewed as having committed a serious offense.

A Canadian businessman is facing a felony case in Nevada, accused of having failed to pay $12.9 million in IOUs he wrote five years ago to the Venetian resort on the Las Vegas Strip and at the Green Valley Ranch resort in Henderson. The markers are treated as bad checks under state law, the Associated Press and the Las Vegas Review-Journal report.


The Venetian resort on the Las Vegas strip.Songquan Deng /

Semion Kronenfeld, 43, is charged with felony theft, writing bad checks and obtaining money under false pretenses in a grand jury indictment Wednesday stemming from a Las Vegas Justice Court case that has been ongoing since 2008. If convicted in the new Clark County District Court case, which involves one of the highest claimed gaming debts ever prosecuted in the jurisdiction, he could be imprisoned for decades.

Once seemingly a highly successful real estate investor, Kronenfeld declared bankruptcy in Canada in 2009 and has argued in court here that he should be relieved from the gambling debt because he cannot afford to pay it, having lost everything in the real estate crash that launched the Great Recession, a QMI Agency article reports.

“I was treated as a VIP at American and Canadian casinos. I was provided markers and always repaid them,” Kronenfeld said in court documents in 2009. “This treatment led to a gambling addiction which I suffer from even today and am currently in treatment.”

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