A Las Vegas judge dismissed a counter-lawsuit by a Czech casino owner Leon Tsoukernik against Australian poker professional Matt Kirk and the Aria, a Las Vegas Strip casino. The countersuit stemmed from a poker game Matt Kirk and Leon Tsoukernik had at the Aria in May 2017, just prior to the start of the 2017 World Series of Poker.
Matt Kirk sued Leon Tsoukernik for $2 million, saying the owner of King’s Casino Rozvadov in the Czech Republic refused to pay most of the money he lost in a liquor-infused session of high stakes poker. Tsoukernikcountersued Matt Kirk, as well as the venue where the game took place.
In the suit, the lawyers claimed the Aria Las Vegas took advantage of him. Now a Las Vegas judge has thrown out the countersuit, though Matt Kirk’s lawsuit continues apace.
On Tuesday, Clark County District Court Judge Linda Bell dismissed Leon Tsoukernik’s countersuit against the Aria casino and Matt Kirk. Last spring, Tsoukernik lost $3 million to Matt Kirk in a high-stakes poker game in front of a group of witnesses, but the casino mogul only paid Kirk $1 million. Kirk then sued for the remainder.
In Tsoukernik’s counter-lawsuit, he claimed that the casino intentionally pushed alcohol his way, luring him into a drunker state. As a casino owner, he said it was the casino’s responsibility to have stopped the game, once it realized he was inebriated.
King’s Casino in Rozvadov
Over the years, he has opened several casinos and poker rooms throughout Europe, but his main casino has been the site of many elite-level poker tournaments, including EPT events and PokerStars tournaments.
Served with Too Much Alcohol
Tsoukernik claimed that the alcohol was “sufficient to visibly intoxicate and impair” his gambling skills. He said that the staff served him too much alcohol in an attempt to “induce him to play for large sums.”
The Czech businessman said in legal filings he was so tired and intoxicated that Kirk and the dealer had to help him count his chips. Tsoukernik claims that he also “misread” his cards during his match with Kirk. Both should have been clear signs that he was not in a state to be gambling millions of dollars. Licensed casinos are not supposed to allow problem gambling or inebriated gambling, though many court cases over the years have involved legal gray areas for both.
Lost $3 Million in 1 Hour
The claim states that he was suffering from “extreme fatigue” during the game. Apparently, Kirk was aware of his Tsoukernik’s state, but continued with the match that ran past 5 a.m. Leon Tsoukernik managed to lose $3 million in just over an hour span. He lost in four increments of $500,000, $500,000, $1 million and $1 million.
Not only was Tsoukernik’s counterclaim dismissed, but his legal team is now court ordered to cover all of Kirk’s legal fees that were accrued from defending against his counterclaim.
Judge Bell referred Tsoukernik to Nevada gaming regulators, who could hear the accusations against the Aria casino. Because the Nevada Gaming Control Board is responsible for managing any disputes and complaints between casinos and gamblers, Bell stated that Leon Tsoukernik’s alleged intoxication had nothing to do with Kirk himself.
Richard Schonfeld, an attorney for Kirk said, “There’s no factual allegation that Mr. Kirk ordered him a drink or anything of that sort.”
Original $2 Million Lawsuit
The high-stakes card game took place between the two on May 27 in the Ivey Room at Aria Casino. Around the time that the original suit was filed by Matt Kirk in Las Vegas, video surfaced showing the partial payment of a gambling loan. Text messages emerged that showed Tsoukernik’s partial payment of that debt.
Judge Bell dismissed 8 of the 10 claims Kirk’s lawyers had made in the lawsuit against Tsourkernik. Though the fact that he was fully responsible for the millions he still owed stood up in court.
Months later, during the week before the World Series of Poker Europe being held at his casino, King’s Casino Rozvadov, the Czech multi-millionaire was hit with the $2 million lawsuit by Kirk in Las Vegas.
Unenforceable Gambling Debt
In court the key decision was made that one transfer of money amounted to an “unenforceable gambling debt”. Because Kirk staked his opponent for some of the cash bet in the game, Judge Bell stated that the money exchanged during the poker match between Matt Kirk and Leon Tsoukernik was a loan and unenforceable.
The judge wrote, “Whether in the form of casino chips, cash, or gold bars, Mr. Tsoukernik received a loan for wagering against Mr. Kirk.”
Though most of the claims against the casino mogul were dismissed, leading Las Vegas newspapers to believe it was a big victory for Tsoukernik, Judge Bell ruled that the lawsuit against him for the remaining debt could go forward. That indicated that the remainder of the suit was enforceable, putting Leon Tsoukernik at risk.
Fraudulent Inducement & Unjust Enrichment
The two claims that Judge Linda Bell cleared and built the Australian’s case around are “fraudulent inducement” and “unjust enrichment”, stating that those are grounds to follow through with the lawsuit.
Judge Bell did not hold back with her opinions on the matter, stating, “Tsoukernik entered into the contract intending to use its unenforceability to refuse repayment. If proven, this could place Tsoukernik at the greatest moral fault in this matter.”