'Too drunk' gambler loses $500,000 in Las Vegas casino

A gambler plays a game at the casino. Photo: John Walton/EMPICS Sport

A gambler who lost $500,000 (£298,000) in 17 hours at a Las Vegas casino has claimed he should not pay his debt because he was too drunk.

Mark Johnston, 52, from California, has sued Downtown Grand and claimed they gave him free drinks and were lending him money while he was clearly drunk.

In Nevada, it is illegal for casinos to allow visibly drunk guests to continue gambling.

The US businessman claims that after leaving the gambling tables, he went back to his hotel room and woke up the next day with no memory of his betting spree.

Mr Johnston, who previously owned car dealerships and was involved in real estate, started gambling on the night of January 30 and finally finished the next afternoon at the casino in downtown Las Vegas.

He played pai gow and blackjack for 17 hours and was served about 20 drinks, according to the lawsuit.

The businessman's lawyer, Sean Lyttle, said he had never heard of a gambler in Las Vegas being allowed to lose such a large amount of money while intoxicated.

Mr Johnston, an experienced gambler, was dropping chips on the floor, confusing chip colors and slurring his speech badly, and he was unable to read his cards or set his hands properly.

– Lawsuit statement

Before Mr Johnston's arrival in Las Vegas he had been given credit in the amount of $250,000 (£149,000) and that was increased while he was gambling to half a million dollars, the lawsuit claimed.

A Downtown Grand spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawsuit, which accuses the casino of negligence, reckless endangerment, fraud and other wrongdoing.

Mr Lyttle said he expects the casino to legally pursue Mr Johnston for the $500,000.