Entertainment & Sports Law

Gambler blames casino for his $500,000 loss while drunk

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A California man who lost $500,000 while gambling drunk says the casino is at fault for plying him with too many drinks.

Mark A. Johnston, 52, lost the money playing blackjack and pai gow during a 17-hour binge at the Downtown Grand Las Vegas Hotel and Casino over Super Bowl weekend, according to CNN, CBS News and the Christian Science Monitor.

In a lawsuit against the casino, Johnston alleges that casino employees served him so many free drinks he suffered a blackout and was unable to remember playing table games all day.


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“If you’re intoxicated, you’re not allowed to gamble,” he told CBS News. “They’re supposed to stop you.”

The suit cites Nevada’s gaming regulations, which forbid “permitting persons who are visibly intoxicated to participate in gaming activity” and the serving of complimentary drinks to people who are “visibly intoxicated.”

Some experts say the suit is not as farfetched as it might seem, depending on what the casino’s surveillance video shows.

Aaron Duncan, an expert on gambling and pop culture at the University of Nevada-Lincoln, told the Christian Science Monitor that the case points to the contradiction that is Las Vegas, “that casinos sort of pay lip service to the notion of what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, that gambling has no consequences, but at the same time it’s all about free drinks to entice you to get into a less-than-best state of mind.”

Casino officials refused to comment on the suit. But Johnston said he has already refused the casino’s offer to settle the debt for less.

The state Gaming Commission confirmed that it has opened an investigation of the case.

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