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Drinking May Have Dethroned His Reason And His Gaming Debt

Suppose you had just lost a $1 million gambling in Las Vegas.  The wise thing to do would be to stop, but you don't.  The house accommodates you by extending another million dollars in "credit" for which you sign markers.  Unfortunately, luck is not a lady and you promptly lose another million bucks.  You fly home and hope that the the casino will be understanding.

Casinos, however, don't show much understanding when it comes to gaming debts.  Shortly after you return home, the casino files a complaint with the Clark County District Attorney's office for for passing bad checks in violation of NRS 205.130 (in Nevada, an unpaid marker is tantamount to passing a check with insufficient funds).  The next thing you know, the District Court has issued a bench warrant for your arrest.  The casino also sues you for breach of contract and wins a jury verdict.  At the contractual interest rate of 18% per annum and with addition of fees and costs, your $1 million marker is now a judgment for $2,626,075.81!

All may not be lost, however, as you claim that you were drunk when you signed the markers.  In Labarbera v. Wynn Las Vegas, LLC, 134 Nev. Adv. Op. 51 (2018), the Nevada Supreme Court held that a person may be incompetent when "actual intoxication dethroned his reason, or that his understanding was so impaired as to render him mentally unsound when the act was performed." Citing Seeley v. Goodwin, 156 P. 934, 937 (1916).  However, the burden of proof is usually the higher standard of clear and convincing evidence.   

The hapless gambler in Labarbera has not necessarily escaped judgment as the Supreme Court remanded the case with directions that the trial court should instruct the jury on the correct rule of law and burden of proof.  It remains to be seen whether a jury will find that the defendant's reason had been dethroned.

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