High roller chased for $43m Gold Coast casino debt
High roller chased for $43m Gold Coast casino debt Thinkstock

High roller chased for $43m casino debt

THE Star Entertainment Group is taking action to recover $43.2m in debts a Singaporean high-roller racked up at its Gold Coast casino, and denies claims that an executive wiped his slate due to "mistakes" made by its baccarat dealers.

Wong Yew Choy, 55, is the target of one of the biggest gambling debt recovery actions ever after the casino flew him to The Star Gold Coast last year in a private jet and gave him $200,000 in "lucky money".

After Mr Wong handed over a signed blank cheque, the casino issued him $40m in chips and then upped his credit by another $10m.

Wong Yew Choy is being sued by the Star Casino.
Wong Yew Choy is being sued by the Star Casino.

When Mr Wong's debt reached $43.2m on the VIP tables over a five-day period between July 26 and August 1, he claims the casino agreed to wipe his massive debt because of supposed dealer errors.

Mr Wong then left town and ordered his bank to put a stop payment on his cheques.

The Star Entertainment Group has commenced legal proceedings in the Singapore High Court.

It claims Star Gold Coast made it clear in a letter to Mr Wong that his debts were not forgiven and that any mistakes made by dealers had "no financial impact to you."

Furthermore, it will be alleged when Mr Wong first raised the issue of dealer error - none of which changed the outcome of any game - he was already down by $37m.

The Oasis VIP gaming area at The Star Gold Coast.
The Oasis VIP gaming area at The Star Gold Coast.

Mr Wong, who runs an online gaming service, was told by Star in writing that it regretted several occasions when the cards were not dealt to his "gaming preference", but he had suffered no loss and had in fact been compensated.

According to one of Mr Wong's lawyers, Lim Mingguan from Providence Law Asia, the mistakes were "essentially that the cards were flipped by the dealer before he got a chance to flip them himself."

There is no suggestion of cheating by the casino but it references a custom common among high-rollers called "squeezing", where players like to rub and slowly turn the cards in order to build anticipation and, in some cases, hope a better card may miraculously appear.

"What the (legal) papers say is that the Star dealer exposed a hand that had been dealt to our client, rather than letting him turn the cards at the time of his choosing," Mr Lim said.

"It is a convention among VIP players that they should be able to turn over the cards."

In another instance, Mr Wong placed a wager while the dealer still had a "free hand" marker on the table, meaning no bets can be placed. Mr Wong complained and was compensated as though he had won the hand, even though he had drawn with the banker.

Star said it would fight to recoup its losses.

"The Star is disappointed the situation involving Wong Yew Choy has forced us to escalate the matter to the Singapore High Court," it said in a statement.

"However, we are pursuing the debt vigorously. We would not be wasting the court's time unless we felt our position was extremely robust. We have no further comment to make at this time."

The Star Gold Coast Casino.
The Star Gold Coast Casino.