A southern California man has sued a Las Vegas casino after he lost US$500,000 on blackjack and
pai gow on the weekend of the Super Bowl, claiming he should not be responsible for his losses because he was drunk.
In the lawsuit, Mark Johnston, 52, of Ventura, accuses the Downtown Grand casino of plying him with alcohol and lending him money to keep playing.
Johnston, a long-time gambler, admits he started drinking long before he got to the casino .
On January 30, the lawsuit says, Johnston had two to four drinks at the Burbank airport, one drink on the hour-long flight to Las Vegas, one drink prepared by his limousine driver when he arrived, another drink while riding inside the limo, and then "several more" drinks at dinner after checking into his hotel. Johnston says he does not recall what happened after dinner.
That is when Johnston started a 17-hour gambling run at the Downtown Grand, during which time he drank 20 or more additional drinks, the lawsuit says, and lost US$500,000, which was made possible by credit the casino extended to him.
The lawsuit says that while Johnston was piling up losses, he was so drunk he could not read his cards and was dropping his chips. Nevada law forbids casinos from allowing visibly drunk patrons to gamble, as well as from giving free drinks to obviously drunk customers.
"What we typically see in cases like this, where someone's obviously had too much to drink, a host, a pit boss is stepping in, saying, 'Hey buddy, why don't you take a break?'" Johnston's attorney, Sean Lyttle, told
Los Angeles Times.
"It seems that everyone in the building was perfectly all right with my client bidding for 17 or 18 hours non-stop, just being served drink after drink."
A casino spokeswoman said that company policy did not allow her to comment on pending lawsuits. Johnston, who reportedly became wealthy from car dealerships and real estate development, told CNN: "I am not a sore loser.
"I've lost half a million. I've lost US$800,000. I've lost a lot of money. This has nothing to do with that. Obviously, I can afford what I lost."
Johnston added: "This is about you [the casino] almost killing me. What if I had gone to bed that night, with all those drinks in me, and I threw up on myself and I choked and died?"
Lyttle, his attorney, told the
Times: "At the very least, this was negligent, it was careless.
"At the worst, it was intentional and malicious. Whatever it was, it was wrong."