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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Why a man sued a Las Vegas casino after losing money

Gambling while drunk is usually not a good idea unless the money has already been accounted for as a loss by the gambler and the law allows for it. Even so, the consequences of such actions are often less than savory and even lead to lawsuits. This is evident in a case involving a California man named Mark Johnston. Moreover, Mr. Johnston sued a Las Vegas casino called the Downtown Grand for both sullying his name and allowing him to gamble away money while visibly intoxicated.

Casino gambling lawsuit
Casinos are responsible for gambler conduct in some cases
On Super Bowl Sunday, or Feb. 2, 2014, Mark Johnston incurred losses of $500,000 while playing the casino card games pai gow and black jack.

The losses Mr. Johnston attained were not completely realized as $250,000 was lost through an unpaid casino line of credit or “marker.” Furthermore, CNN claimed a casino host was aware of the fact the Mr. Johnston was also taking a prescribed medication that amplifies the effects of alcohol. Later on, employees of the Downtown Grand informed another venue to be wary of Mr. Johnston.

Nevada legislation

According to Section 5.011 of the Nevada law titled “Regulation 5”, and in accordance with the Nevada Gaming Control Act, it “...may be determined to be an unsuitable method of operation,” if a gaming establishment “permits persons who are visibly intoxicated to participate in gaming activity“ and “allows complimentary service of intoxicating beverages in the casino areas to persons who are visibly intoxicated.” In other words, it is illegal for a casino to both serve beverages and condone gaming to persons who are obviously drunk.

Proving intoxication

Proving visible intoxication will require Johnston's legal representation to gather suitable evidence. Such proof includes eyewitness testimony and video camera surveillance footage per CBS news. If the beverages were served via casino comp card orders, then there may also be a record of the drinks within the casino's digital records or account holder profile information. The duration of time in which the drinks containing alcohol were consumed and the volume of alcohol in each beverage are also relevant.

Validation of sullying

If the sullying that is said to have damaged Mr. Johnston's reputation is proven, then it may be determined to be defamation. The Kelly/Warner law firm states that in Nevada, “Defamation is a false and offensive written or spoken statement that damages the subject of the statement.” Moreover, “The plaintiff has the burden of proof to demonstrate a statement’s falsity in civil court.” This will require Johnston's lawyer(s) to prove specific statements were actually made in addition to demonstrating how his reputation was actually damaged.

This is not the first Nevada lawsuit against a casino, nor is it the first lawsuit that claims unlawful serving of alcohol while gaming. More specifically, in 2007, a gambler named Terrance Watanabe lost $127 million playing casino games. His legal case also claimed the casino served him pain medication per the Wall Street Journal. Ultimately, that case was settled via arbitration per Find Law, but the moral of the story is alcohol and gambling are a risky venture regardless of the outcome. 

Image: Jamie Adams; "Gambling Chips"; CC BY-SA 2.0