A few drinks at the airport and more on the way to a Las Vegas casino during Super Bowl weekend cost a Southern California man $500,000. Now he's suing the casino to try to get it back.
An attorney for Ventura resident Mark Johnston said the Downtown Grand Casino took advantage of his client by loaning him money and allowing him to play pai gow and blackjack while he was visibly intoxicated. A court fight is in the cards after Johnston filed a lawsuit last week to get his money back.
Johnston said he feels like they picked his pockets.
"It's like a drunk guy is walking down the street and you just go ahead and reach in his pocket and steal all his money," he said. "They should have cut me off. The bottom line is the casinos are not supposed to gamble to you and over-serve you in alcohol."
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Johnston told NBC4 that the lawsuit isn't about the money. He has wealth from his ownership of Ventur County car dealerships and he himself drives a $200,000 Mercedes SLS sportscar. The lawsuit is about personal responsibility.
"I don't even remember being put to bed, I could have fallen asleep and died in my sleep. Choked, threw up, who knows,” Johnston said. "Let’s say i wasn't staying at the grand hotel and they allowed me to walk out the door and get in a car and I ended up killing somebody, then what would we be talking about?"
Johnston claims the Downtown Grand Casino violated Nevada gambling regulations by giving him up to 20 drinks in 17 hours and doubling his casino credit, even though he said an employee later told him he was too drunk to continue.
"It's not just for me, a gambler that gambles with larger amounts of money. How about the guy with a 1,000, how about a guy with 2,000, how about a guy a 5,000, 10,000, that's drunk leaning on the table, can't see the color of his chips, can't read his cards, do you think they should have taken his money?" Johnsto
Nevada law bars casinos from allowing visibly drunk patrons to gamble and from serving them comped drinks.
"You certainly aren't supposed to issue half a million dollars in markers to someone who is obviously intoxicated," said Johnston's attorney, Sean Lyttle.
The costly night started after a Thursday arrival with drinks at the aiport and more drinks during a limousine ride. The drinking continued during dinner at Triple George Grill on 3rd Street next to the casino in downtown Las Vegas.
"I don't remember anything until Super Bowl night," Johnston said.
The casino is countersuing Johnston for trying to shirk his gambling debts, according to The Associated Press. Johnston put a stop-payment order on the markers, or casino credits, the Grand issued. He is also seeking damages from the Grand for sullying his name, the AP reported.
Johnson told NBC4 that he only owes $400,000 because the casino gave him a 20 percent discount on any debt. The Nevada Gaming Control Board is investigating.
A casino spokeswoman told the AP the company does not comment on pending litigation.
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Johnston, a retiree, owned Ojai Ford before selling it in 2006, according to the Ventura County Star.