Star’s case against Singaporean high roller goes on

By William Brown Updated
Star’s case against Singaporean high roller goes on

A Queensland court isn’t giving up on trying to reach an outcome in the case of a baccarat high roller who owes A$43 million.

The debt, accrued at Star Gold Coast by billionaire Dr Wong Yew Choy won’t be thrown out by the Queensland Supreme Court.

Wong arrived at the Gold Coast venue on one of the casino’s private jets in July 2018, according to the complaint from Star Entertainment.

The high roller was given A$40 million in chips, which he lost within three days.

The casino then gave him an additional A$10 million.

After a week at the tables, he left the casino precisely A$43,209,853.34 in the red, according to Star.

This included a hotel bill of more than A$420,000.

The chips were extended as credit, to be settled later, which is not unusual for high rollers of Wong’s standing.

He submitted as security two blank checks, leaving the casino to fill in the particulars.

But they bounced when the casino tried to cash them.

Star pursued Wong in Singapore courts

Star initially pursued the debt through the Singapore courts, but they sided with the billionaire.

That’s because the city state’s Civil Law Act prohibits the government from assisting foreign companies seeking to recoup debts related to overseas gambling.

In his motion to have the case dismissed in the Queensland Court of Appeals, Wong argued the Singapore ruling should stand, and further litigation represented “unjustified oppression” against him, which “brought the administration of justice into disrepute.”

“He is again forced to confront the same allegations in a different proceeding, which constitutes the vexation inherent in Star’s conduct,” Wong’s lawyers wrote.

“This is a case where Star has engaged in ‘staged conduct’ of litigation using this court’s processes to ‘hedge its bets’.”

He also argued he shouldn’t have to pay the money because the dealers kept on making mistakes.

But appeals court judges were not convinced.

“Dr Wong should not have considered that his dispute with Star was at an end once the Singapore proceeding was dismissed,” they wrote.

In April, a Supreme Court judge permitted the case to proceed, describing it as a “relatively straightforward” claim for damages that should be determined on its merits.

Wong is a former director of Celton Manx, which owns SBOBET.

This was the first Asian betting company to sponsor an English Premier League team, West Ham United.

A spokesperson for Celton Minx said that Wong resigned from the position in March 2019.

That’s as soon as the company became aware of his dispute with Star.

Wong owns the Zac Stable in Singapore, which has produced several winning racehorses trained by Australian Clifford Brown.

His lawyers describe him as a “highly respected patron of casinos around the world, who is regularly provided with concessions and incentive packages.”

Crown checks lead to high roller bans

Crown Resorts has swung the axe on a big proportion of its Australian high rollers.

The casino operator has banned one out of every 10 of its Australian-based high rollers subjected to due diligence reviews because they could not explain where their money came from or raised other probity concerns.

The purge of big spending gamblers comes as the $6 billion group tries to clean up its operations and save its casino licences in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth following revelations of criminal infiltration, money laundering and irresponsible gambling policies.

Crown’s incoming chief executive Steve McCann said the company was “preparing for a range of possible outcomes” from royal commissions examining its licences in Victoria and Western Australia, including suspension or cancellation.

“We will consider all options to maximise shareholder value in the context of however the regulatory environment plays out,” Mr McCann said, including looking at any future takeover offers.

“Crown has three of the best integrated resorts in the world. I’m sure there will be people looking with interest at how things play out.”

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