DETROIT (AP) _ If you're a bad gambler, the odds are in your favor if you live in Michigan.

Michigan law prohibits the courts from enforcing collection of gambling debts, an appeals court said in ruling that a collection agency can't force a Michigan man to pay a $5,000 debt to a Las Vegas casino.

International Recovery had gone to court to force John H. Gabler, 47, to pay a 1986 debt to the Sands Hotel and Casino that now stands at $10,770 with interest.

He signed four markers, a form of check, for $5,000 worth of chips at the Sands. The markers bounced, and International Recovery bought the debt.

It sued in Nevada and won, but Circuit Judge Barry Howard refused to enforce the Nevada order in Michigan because it involved gambling. The appeals court upheld his ruling on Tuesday.

Sands Vice President Shelley Berkley said the ruling could hurt visitors to casinos who want to gamble on credit.

''It will have a chilling effect on credit approval of checks from out-of- state customers because of a lack of opportunity for us to receive justice,'' Berkley said.

International Recovery is considering an appeal, attorney Keith Nathanson said.

Gabler's telephone number is unlisted, and his attorney said Gabler didn't want to comment.

Gambling is illegal in Michigan, except on tribal lands.