The California man who is suing the Downtown Grand after losing half a million dollars on Super Bowl weekend is speaking out, defending his lawsuit.
“I am not a sore loser,” Mark A. Johnston told CNN. “I’ve lost half a million. I’ve lost $800,000. I’ve lost a lot of money. This has nothing to do with that. Obviously I can afford what I lost.”
Johnston, 52, who is a retired real estate investor and car dealership owner, told CNN that the lawsuit is about a bigger issue and says he was plied with liquor and victimized in an old-time hustle.
“Just picture a drunk walking the street and he’s drunk, and someone pickpockets and takes his money from him. That’s how I characterize it,” Johnston says in the interview. “I feel like it’s the days of old Vegas, the way they’ve been extorting me with letters and attorneys.”
And it isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened. CBS news reported that in 2009, Terrance Watanabe, a high roller, sued a Las Vegas casino after losing $127 million claiming the staff plied him with alcohol and painkillers to keep him gambling.
In Johnston’s case, the civil lawsuit states that the casino continued to serve him drinks, totaling 20, during 17 hours of straight gambling where four lines of credit had been issued by the casino, according to KABC-TV in Los Angeles.
“They served me all the drinks, they should have cut me off,” Johnston says in the CNN interview.
The lawsuit also states that Johnston was “dropping chips on the floor, confusing chip colors, and slurring his speech badly. And he was unable to read his cards.”
Johnston isn’t blaming the Downtown Grand entirely, though, and told CNN that he has some responsibility, but that the casino has more responsibility.
“My responsibility is, look, I had some drinks at the airport, I had a drink on the plane ,” Johnston said. “At some point that’s my responsibility, OK. But, the unfortunate part about it for them is that they have a more, bigger responsibility than I do.”
CNN reported that the Nevada Gaming Control Board is investigating the Downtown Grand to determine whether it violated gaming regulations, which prohibit casinos from “permitting persons who are visibly intoxicated to participate in gaming activity” and from providing “complimentary service of intoxicating beverages in the casino area to persons who are visibly intoxicated.”
“We are investigating this thoroughly,” chief of Nevada Gaming Control Board’s enforcement division Karl Bennison told CNN. “We are aware of this matter. We’ll see if there are regulation violations.”
In the 2009 Las Vegas casino lawsuit against Harrah’s Entertainment, Watanabe ended up cutting a deal with the casino and all charges against him were dropped.