What is a ‘kite’?
In UK slang, a ‘kite’ is a cheque. A cheque is a formal contract to pay between the account holder, the bank and the payee – in betting, the casino or the bookmaker.
The player hands over the cheque and thereby agrees to honour the amount on it, and the banks make the transaction while the house provides the funds. In US terminology, a ‘kite’ is still a cheque (or ‘check’) but it has been processed fraudulently and represents funds which do not exist.
Cheques were the common way to make high value payments for many years, though digital currency has all but phased out the need for cheques today, and many casinos will not accept them as they could be a security risk.
The word of the person making payment is not as reassuring as an instant cash transfer. Cheques can be forged or they can be made when the funds are not actually present. Some casinos will still pay winnings by cheque, however. The phrase ‘kite’ was adopted from US slang, and simply refers in Britain to any cheque or payment by cheque.
In the US, a ‘kite’ is a fraudulent cheque. The payment promise is made between two banks, usually both held by the person paying the money in. The cheque is written in such a way that the processing can never be completed, and the cheque takes advantage of bank return systems by bouncing between the two. In the meantime, the balance is shown as available to the person making the payment.
The kite might be used in this way to access funds which are not yet available, with the intent of honouring the payment later. This is still illegal but there is a low chance of detection. Gamblers may use a kite to temporarily inflate their balance and access credit, hoping for a win which can cover the kite and also their casino bill.
There have been several high profile cases where gamblers have successfully defrauded casinos in this way – and plenty where the attempt failed as well.