Drunk gambler: Casino was just trying to take advantage

By: CBS
By: CBS

Las Vegas, NV (CBS) - A Las Vegas casino is facing a lawsuit from a California customer. The gambler wants $500,000 back. He claims the casino was responsible for a drunken blackout. His lawyer claims he was so intoxicated he couldn't read his playing cards.

The gambler, Mark Johnston, recently shared why he believes the casino should lose this hand. Johnston told CBS News' Bill Whitaker, "I mean, picture this: You're walking down the street - you're drunk, you're drunk - and somebody leans over and reaches in your pocket and steals your wallet. Do you think that's right?"

Whitaker asked, "That's what you think they did to you?"

"Yes," Johnston said.

Johnston said he was welcomed to the new Downtown Grand Casino in Las Vegas Super Bowl weekend.

Asked if he's a high roller, Johnston said he's "won this amount of money, and I've lost this kind of money."

But this time, he said, was different. "I'll be honest with you," he said. "I was in a complete blackout. I've never been in a blackout before."

He says the casino served him so many drinks - he estimates between 20 and 30 - he has no memory of playing table games all day. "I believed that they were just trying to take advantage of a player," Johnston said. "If you're intoxicated, you're not allowed to gamble. They're supposed to stop you."

But he said they didn't stop him, and he lost big. He's now suing the casino, citing Nevada's gaming regulations, which forbid "permitting persons who are visibly intoxicated to participate in gaming activity" and "complimentary service of intoxicating beverages in the casino area to persons who are visibly intoxicated."

CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman said, "He says that he shouldn't have to pay his losses because he was so drunk. Well, then my next thought is, well, what if he'd won? If the video surveillance shows someone who has been drinking, but just like everybody else has been drinking, this guy is going nowhere."

Johnston contends the surveillance video is being reviewed. The Gaming Commission would not confirm that, saying only they've opened an investigation. The casino wouldn't comment on a pending lawsuit.

Johnston said the casino was trying to make money. He said he takes "full responsibility" for getting intoxicated, adding, "now, to a blackout stage? Not really. I believe them just keep bringing me drinks, I blame that on them, and then continuously letting me gamble and letting me drink, I blame that on them."

Johnston said the casino has offered to settle for less, but he said, for now, he's proceeding with his lawsuit.

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