News

Man claims he was ‘too drunk to lose’

Man claims he was ‘too drunk to lose’

TOO DRUNK TO LOSE?: Mark Johnston, 52, arrived drunk at the Downtown Grand casino and was plied with free alcoholic drinks while he gambled, according to the suit filed February 18 in Nevada state court for Clark County. Photo: Associated Press

(Reuters) – A California man who lost $500,000 in 17 hours gambling at a Las Vegas casino was so drunk he could not remember the episode after waking up in his hotel room, said a lawsuit filed on his behalf that seeks to erase the debt.

Mark Johnston, 52, arrived drunk at the Downtown Grand casino and was plied with free alcoholic drinks while he gambled, according to the suit filed February 18 in Nevada state court for Clark County.

After leaving the gaming tables, Johnston went to his hotel room and woke up the next day with no memory of his time at the tables, stated the lawsuit, depicting his mental state while gambling as a “blackout period.”

Johnston’s attorney, Sean Lyttle, described him as a self-made millionaire who previously owned a number of car dealerships and was involved in real estate development.

Starting on the night of January 30 and running into the next afternoon at the casino in downtown Las Vegas, a few miles from The Strip, Johnston played pai gow and blackjack for 17 hours and was served about 20 drinks, according to the lawsuit.

Lyttle said he has never heard of a gambler in Las Vegas being allowed to lose such a large amount while intoxicated.

“Mr. Johnston, an experienced gambler, was dropping chips on the floor, confusing chip colors and slurring his speech badly, and he was unable to read his cards or set his hands properly,” the lawsuit stated.

The description of Johnston’s behavior came largely from Eric Weis, a bartender at the casino who had previously befriended Johnston and sat beside him at one point during the gambling episode, Lyttle said.

Weis has since stopped working at the casino, where he felt pressured by management over the incident, the attorney said.

Before his arrival in Las Vegas, Johnston, a resident of Ventura, had been given credit in the amount of $250,000, and that amount was increased while he was gambling so he ultimately lost $500,000, the lawsuit said.

Nevada gaming regulations prohibit casinos to allow visibly drunk guests to continue to gamble.

A spokeswoman for the Downtown Grand declined to comment on the lawsuit, which accuses the casino negligence, reckless endangerment, fraud and other wrongdoing.

It seeks to have a court declare Johnston’s $500,000 gambling debt null and void, as well as unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

Lyttle said he expects the casino will file a countersuit seeking payment of the debt, after failing to have it withdrawn from Johnston’s bank account.

“I’m frankly baffled by the way this was handled and all I can really think to chalk it up to is inexperience,” Lyttle said. “This is a casino that opened its doors in November.”

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Scott Malone and Gunna Dickson)

Latest Headlines

in Music

Gene Simmons credits mother for drug-free life

Fresh
Gene Simmons speaks onstage during the "4th and Loud" portion of the AMC 2014 Summer TCA on Friday, July 11, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The Kiss frontman insists he has never been drunk or gotten high because he always worried about his mom's reaction.

in Music

Joan Jett to open for The Who’s 50th anniversary tour

Fresh
joan

The "My Generation" hitmakers are set to bring their The Who Hits 50! tour to North America.

in Sports

Thursday’s Sports Minute

grizzlies

Here's a look at some of the big sports stories making headlines today, Thursday, Dec. 18.

in Sports

Ray Rice investigation heating up

Former Baltimore Ravens NFL running back Ray Rice and his wife Janay arrive for a hearing at a New York City office building November 5, 2014.

Hundreds of NFL employees gave records to investigators looking into how Commissioner Roger Goodell handled evidence in the Ray Rice case.

in Sports

49ers release McDonald amid sex assault investigation

raymcdonald

San Francisco released defensive tackle Ray McDonald after he was named a suspect in a sexual assault case.