Australia’s Star Entertainment Group has been granted leave by the Queensland Supreme Court to pursue an AU$43 million (US$33 million) damages claim against a Singaporean businessman who has refused to repay his gambling debts.
The Supreme Court decision, which relates to losses incurred by Dr Wong Yew Choy in July and August 2018, comes after Star had previously failed to have the debt enforced in Singapore, with the Singapore International Commercial Court explaining last year that the nation’s Civil Law Act specifically denies the enforcement of gambling debts accrued in foreign jurisdictions.
That hasn’t stopped Star from bringing the fight back home – filing a claim to recover AU$43.2 million plus interest and costs.
Dr Wong had responded by filing his own conditional notice of intention to defend in which he disputed the court’s jurisdiction and said the proceeding was an abuse of process. However, Queensland Supreme Court Justice Thomas Bradley last week dismissed the application to dismiss or set aside The Star’s case.
“Star has pleaded a relatively straightforward claim in damages, including under the Cheques Act,” Justice Bradley said, as reported by The Gold Coast Bulletin.
“I am not persuaded that allowing the proceeding to continue will result in Dr Wong incurring a serious and unfair burden, prejudice or damage or cause him any serious and unjustified trouble or harassment in defending himself.”
“If it were dismissed or stayed, Star would be prevented from having its claim against Dr Wong determined on its merits. That would be an injustice.”
The case, previously described as the largest casino debt case ever filed with a Singapore court, relates to a dispute over money Dr Wong lost on the VIP tables at The Star Gold Coast in 2018.
Dr Wong has alleged that a senior casino executive promised he would not be liable for his losses up until 29 July 2018 due to mistakes made by a baccarat dealer, nor would he be liable for any future losses if further mistakes were made. When another mistake was made on 1 August, Wong immediately stopped playing, he claimed.
Also in dispute was the nature of The Star Gold Coast’s loan to Wong. According to Star Entertainment Group, Wong requested and was given a check cashing facility for AU$40 million, which was later increased by another AU$10 million. Wong said he did not make any such request and was instead offered the AU$40 million credit directly.
Star Entertainment Group was given a blank check by Dr Wong which the company later filled out, only to find that he had cancelled the check upon his return to Singapore.
Both Star and Dr Wong have now been ordered to make written submissions on costs, with the case expected to be heard later this year, according to The Gold Coast Bulletin.