Downtown Grand Las Vegas Casino Cannot Let Overly Drunk People Gamble

Downtown Grand Las Vegas

Downtown Grand Las Vegas cannot let people gamble when they are too intoxicated. When Mark Johnston of Ventura, CA, visited Las Vegas and claimed he was too drunk to remember losing $500,000, the dealers, cocktail waitresses, pit boss, Johnston’s host or hostess, and the casino shift managers should have known it. Johnston has refused to pay his $500,000 marker. He claims the casino comped him 20 drinks during a 17 hour period and doubled his casino credit and that was after he arrived at the casino drunk. Downtown Grand Las Vegas attempted to contact his bank to pay off the marker weeks before it was due. Johnston has block payment

The Downtown Grand Las Vegas refused to comment while an investigation was taking place. They are counter-suing for the money.

Mark Johnston is known as a whale. He is a casual gambler with a good line of credit. Casinos actively search for guests like Johnston and offer free rooms, shows, and dinners. The Downtown Grand Las Vegas opened in November 2013. They have new employees, but not inexperienced ones in management positions.

All casinos have different procedures, but the following usually takes place in the same order. To get a marker, guests fill out an application. A credit history is conducted and a line of credit is established or denied. Credit could be as little as $500. It can be as high as $50 million or more pending on the line established. In the case of Mark Johnston, his line of credit was $250,000.

When a guest sits at a table and asks for a marker, the dealer informs the pit boss which guest wanted the marker and for how much. For instance, a guest asks for $1,000. The pit boss places a round non-value chip of labeled 100 near the drop box for Surveillance to see—the 100 stands for $1,000. Next, the pit boss asks the guests for their player’s card and a valid form of identification: drivers license, passport, a voting card for a foreign national. The pit boss swipes the casino’s card for the player and then looks at the line of credit available for the guest. Each table has such as terminal nearby If not, there is a computer station where the guest can be looked up. Once the guest’s identity and credit limit is confirmed, the chips are issued while the pit boss fills out and prints the paperwork. Between hands, the guest signs teh marker. A guest receives a copy of the paperwork, another copy is placed into the drop box, while another copy of the marker is updated into the computer by the pit boss or a pit clerk.

Casinos have different procedures on how to issue the chips. If the marker is more than $10,000 for the day, a smart pit boss makes a phone call to the casino manager. Most casino managers will make time to confirm the marker or will take over the procedure.

Someone like Mark Johnston can play where ever he likes in the casino. Management prefers such people in a High Limit room with experienced dealers and floor people. Every wager Mark Johnson made over Super Bowl weekend was recorded, so was every marker he signed. The pit boss would have entered an average bet for Johnston. Anything over a $5oo average bet would notified a casino manager who would call and confirm, if not personally check. The fact there was big money being played would have placed most casino managers nearby the table watching the action. Until the casino manager showed up, the pit boss will not venture far from that table. Surveillance would have been called and watching too.

Downtown Grand Las Vegas Casino cannot let people gamble when they are too intoxicated, neither can any other Las Vegas casino. It is the job of a dealer alert the pit boss if a guest is drunk, cheating, being rude, or a combination of the above. It is the job of the pit boss to observe the play. In the case of Johnston claiming he was too drunk, the pit boss needs to confirm if the guest can still make a rational decision. In the case of blackjack, does the player stare at the cards and appear in a lost state? Does the person hit on a hard 18 or stand on four? Is the guest swaying in his or her chair or constantly dropping chips? After two hands, perhaps less, it is easy to tell if someone is too drunk to play.

Granted, different people get overly intoxicated in different ways. Someone can get drunk after a drink or two. It all depends on a person’s body weight, any food in the stomach, and the ability to metabolize alcohol. Management at Downtown Grand Casino Las Vegas know how to judge when a guest is too drunk to play. They take classes on the subject and have a valid Alcohol Awareness Training card.

If Mark Johnston was too drunk to make a rational decision, the pit boss must, not should, must stop the play. The smart pit boss might suggest the person take a break or have that person’s friend, if a sober one is available, assist that guest in taking a break. If a guest refuses to leave, Security can escort them off the property as a last resort.

When someone like Mark Johnston gets too drunk to play, a pit boss will call casino shift manager and the guest’s host. Let the higher ups handle the problem because casinos cannot let people gamble when they are too intoxicated. It is not a responsible policy and it gives credence to the casino taking advantage of someone.

Something happened at the Downtown Grand Casino Las Vegas over Super Bowl weekend. To double a credit line of credit from $250,000 to $500,000 involved casino management. Anything signed at a casino table or in front of the cage happened under the watchful eye of a camera. If Johnston was too drunk to make informed decisions, he would sway in circles and stumble when he walked. His actions would be on film. The employees around Johnson would also be filmed and their statements could be taken and forwarded to the Nevada Gaming Commission.

A pit boss allowed Johnston to continue playing or was told to allow him to play by  management. The Cage increased his credit from $250,000 to $500,000. The shift managers knew Johnston was on property and knew of the credit increase. Average play alerts would have gone to Table Games management so there was no way they could not be aware. Even under a paper system, the pit boss would have covered himself by informing the shift supervisor. Even if management could somehow claim ignorance, everything was filmed by Surveillance and has to be on record. Downtown Grand Las Vegas Casino cannot let overly drunk people gamble, there are established procedures they must follow.

Opinion By Brian T. Yates


NBC 4News

3 Responses to "Downtown Grand Las Vegas Casino Cannot Let Overly Drunk People Gamble"

  1. jo Ann Sandoval   March 11, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    The Grand has a promotion in which you open line of credit with the possibility of winning 25 grand. This man knew what he was doing, too drunk ? Come on people go to las Vegas to do just what Mr Johnston drink and gamble! He needs to pay up like everyone else does. If he couldn’t pay he shouldn’t have gambled to begin with! !

  2. boydboy   March 9, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    This editorial is complete bunk especially considering the author made up his own facts. Johnston never gambled on a credit line before. He has said so in interviews. The only other credit line he says he ever had was for only $25k which he never used. He wasn’t someone with a record of paying his gambling debts because he never played on credit in the first place. Then out of the blue he decides to open up his first line of credit in 30 years of regular gambling and doe $250k. Then conveniently when he loses he claims its not his fault and won’t pay. Give me a break. The man is just a crybaby who was running a scam from the beginning. If he lost he’d whine and not pay. If he won he would take the money.

  3. NewportBeach   March 9, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    That’s completely ridiculous, this man made his own decisions and should have to live with them. If he had gotten into a car in Ventura and driven home drunk, wrecked the car and killed an innocent person it would have been his fault. This is no different, it’s his responsibility to decide when to quit (gaming or drinking) not the casinos. I’m just sorry he didn’t lose every dime he has to his name!


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