It isn’t uncommon for casinos to afford well-heeled VIPs a line of credit but Wong Yew Choy has taken it to another level. Star City Gold Coast is chasing Wong for an unpaid debt of $43.2 million. The incredible amount is believed to be one of the largest-ever gambling debts.
Wong is a 56-year-old Singaporean VIP who visited Star Gold Coast in July 2018. He’s well-known in the high roller casino world and built his fortune gambling. It only took seven days for Wong to rack up $43.2 million in losses playing baccarat.
A private jet flew Wong to the Star after he accepted an invitation from the VIP team. The casino’s glamorous VIP marketing executive Teazel Yaw seduced him, Wong claimed. Wong was gifted a lavish penthouse suite and $100,000 of “lucky money”. It didn’t turn out to be very lucky at all.
Wong Hands Over Blank Check For $40M Worth of Chips
Wong handed over a blank check in exchange for $40 million in chips shortly after his arrival on July 26. He blew the entire $40 million at the baccarat tables. Wong requested another $10 million but dusted that off by August 2. He was in the hole to the tune of $43,209,853 when his trip ended.
The blank cheque Wong handed over to the casino bounced when Star tried cashing it. Wong claims Star executive, Paul Arbuckle, agreed to waive Wong’s debts up to July 30, 2018. The waiver was because of mistakes made by the baccarat dealers, or so Wong says.
The Star denies this conversation ever took place and say it’s a ploy to avoid paying the debt.
Star attempted to chase down Wong for the $43.2 million owed. They used Singapore’s legal system but the Singaporean High Court dismissed the case on July 7. Repayments have not been made and Star’s frequents letters have gone unanswered.
Singapore law does not enforce the recovery of money won on wagers. This is especially true for gambling on foreign soil. Wong’s legal team argued Star was trying to do this, not claim for an unpaid credit facility.
The Supreme Court in Brisbane is now involved after Star issued a lawsuit. There is no set date for the hearing, however.
Rough Few Months For Star
It has been a tough few months for Star and the rest of the Australian gambling industry. COVID-19 related lockdowns have decimated revenue and profits.
Star’s investors learned recently the company lost $94.6 million in the 2020 financial year. The company made $198 million in 2019 to give those huge losses some context.
A lack of money generated by international VIPs was one reason for Star’s losses. Revenue from these key customers fell 51.3% to $285.3 million. They turned over an incredible $5 billion less than the previous year. Wong and his refusal to pay his debts no doubt impacted the company’s balance sheet too.
More negative press came Star’s way shortly after announcing its poor financial results. It revealed it paid a $64,500 fine to industry regulators for allowing underage gambling.
A 12-year-old girl entered its Sydney casino and placed 21 bets on pokies. It wasn’t the first time this happened to Star. A 17-year-old boy was able to play 42 rounds of roulette and 22-hands of poker in a separate incident.
Then there’s the ongoing investigation into Star’s use of junkets. Junkets have long been associated with organised crime back in China. Star admitted it collaborates with Suncity, the junket under the spotlight from the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority.
Suncity had a private high stakes room at its Sydney property. It closed in 2019 after learning the Department of Home Affairs banned junket owner, Alvin Chau, from entering Australia.