Casinos Violating Nevada Law


A Las Vegas gambler found himself in debt to the casino that served him at least 20 drinks after he was visibly intoxicated. The company gave the man a large line of credit, and now demands their money be paid back in full. This was during Super Bowl weekend, and the businessman argues he should not have to pay because he does not remember the event. The biggest basis for this lawsuit, similar to one seen in 2009, alleges that these casinos violated Nevada law when serving drunken patrons.

Mark Johnston who is 52-years-old living in Ventura is suing the Downtown Grand for serving him drinks when he was visibly intoxicated, and for loaning him money. Nevada law prohibits the sale of alcohol to people who are visibly drunk, and the same state also reportedly prohibits visibly intoxicated customers from gambling.
Johnston claims he was completely drunk when playing pai gow and blackjack at the casino. Eyewitness testimony and surveillance footage will be called upon for his defense.

Sean Lyttle, Johnston’s attorney, claims the Grand sullied his name, which is one of his claims for damages. Johnston put a stop-payment order on the casino credits; Johnston claiming the casino already “stole” 100,000 dollars from his account.

The Grand has refused to comment on the pending litigation as the state Gaming Control board pursues an investigation. Lyttle says this is truly an extraordinary case to have a casino continue serving a customer drinks; a customer who was obviously blackout intoxicated. The suit against the Nevada casinos could be successful if found to have violated state law.

Johnston arrived in Las Vegas with a date. He was drinking in the limousine from the airport to the Grand, and continued to drink during dinner with his friends who say it was around this time he “blacked out.”

The lawsuit reports that the Grand casino “comped” the customer dozens of alcoholic beverages while he gambled away hundreds of thousands of dollars; eventually passing out that Saturday, Feb. 1. He learned about how much he allegedly lost the following day.

In 2007, Terrance Watanabe went on a similar venture at Caesars Palace and Rio casinos in Las Vegas. This was a year-long gambling binge that set him back $127,000,000. At one point, his bets reached $825 million, an amount CBS News reported to be close to the gross domestic product of the British Virgin Islands.
Watanabe claims he was served drinks and painkillers after becoming visibly intoxicated, filling suit against the parent company, Harrah’s Entertainment. In the lawsuit he claims Harrah’s is culpable of fraud, breach of contract, conspiracy and negligence.

While gambling, the man was reported giving tips as large as $20,000. One security guard claims he never could recall seeing Watanabe in a sober state. Watanabe was charged with criminal theft and bad-cheque charges in Vegas over $14.5 million in losses which he failed to pay. His bail was set at $1.5 million, which is reportedly why Watanabe prompted lawsuit. A deal was later entered and the criminal charges were dropped.

In 2007, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. claimed 5.6 percent of its total gambling revenue came from Watanabe alone. The patron allegedly paid back nearly $112 million before filing the lawsuit. In both cases the casinos involved were alleged to have violated Nevada law when serving the patrons alcohol while they were visibly intoxicated.

By Lindsey Alexander


CBS News
CBS News

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