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
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
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
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
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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
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payment of the debt, after failing to have it withdrawn from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
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