Society

Gambler Sues Casino, Says He Was Blackout Drunk When He Racked Up $500,000 Tab

| by Jonathan Wolfe

Here’s a new strategy for anyone who wants to spend big money gambling and get out of paying their tab.

Retired businessman Mark Johnston is arguing that he shouldn’t have to repay a $500,000 debt he racked up one night at a Las Vegas casino because he was blackout drunk. Johnston is suing the Downtown Grand casino for continuing to serve him drinks and loan him money well after he was visibly drunk.

The lawsuit is filed on the grounds of Nevada laws which forbid casinos from allowing obviously drunk patrons to gamble and from serving them comped drinks.

Despite his intoxicated recklessness, Johnston says he feels like a victim of the casino.

“I feel like they picked my pockets,” he said. “I feel like they took a drunk guy…like a drunk guy walking down the street, and you reach in his pockets and grab all his money.”

Johnston put a stop-payment order on the roughly $500,000 in casino credits issued to him on his boozed up night. The Downtown Grand intends to pursue repayment, of course.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board will also be investigating the case.

"It's certainly an extraordinary case. This is not a story that I've ever heard before, where someone was blackout intoxicated where they couldn't read their cards, and yet a casino continued to serve them drinks and issue them more markers," Johnston’s lawyer Sean Lyttle said. "It's a very heavy-handed and unusual approach that we haven't seen in this town in a long time."

The lawsuit alleges Johnston was so drunk he didn’t even know how much money he lost until he awoke from his drunken slumber the next day. In addition to having his debt wiped, Johnston is seeking damages from the casino for sullying his name. 

Of course, this story begs the question: Would Johnston be suing the casino if he had won -- not lost -- $500,000 while blackout drunk?

Sources: ABC, News 3