Sydney’s Star Casino suing High Rollers for $22.9m

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Australia seems to be experiencing a flurry of high stakes gambling in recent years. We say this because last week there was an update in a case where a Melbourne gambler sought to recover $20.5 million, while this week brings us the story of Sydney’s Star Casino suing high rollers to collect $22.9 million.

Getting into the specifics, the nearly $23m in debt comes from 10 Asian businessmen who were introduced to the Star Casino by a company called SilkStar. The latter is a now-defunct gambling tour company that went down owing Star Casino around $7 million themselves. Echo Entertainment, which owns the casino, commented on the matter with the following:

As of May 31st, 2012, the total write-off and impairment provision taken against these customers amounts to $22.9 million. Echo will, however, continue to vigorously pursue all possible avenues to recover the money outstanding from these customers.

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As for the high rollers who’ve yet to pay their debts, they include the following 10 Thai businessmen: Kok Wah Tee, Nattachai Srirungsukpinij, Liong Chong Yap, Phatsita Kiratiphatthananan, Krairurg Kodcha, Kau Lan, Chin Meng Pun, Pimchaya Wattanakulyothin, Vissanu Wiangnak, and Somboon Srisombattanakit.

An interesting side story that’s developed in this matter includes Australian billionaire James Packer’s crusade to have Star Casino chairman John Story removed from his position. Packer has never left any doubt that he wants Story gone, and the $22.9 million in bad debt has given his agenda more momentum.

Packer has even went so far as to run newspaper ads that smear Story’s reputation and expose his flaws. One choice newspaper ad read as, “Echo wrote off $29.9 million associated with the liquidation of a marketing partner and bad debts – highlighting concerns about credit control at The Star.”

Since Packer’s attacks on Story, there’s been an investors meeting where talks centered around removing the chairman. However, this suggestion has less to do about Story’s performance than it does about preventing further attacks by Packer. John Story explained this by stating, “The basis of the proposal was the concern that James Packer was threatening to do damage to Echo on an ongoing basis, it wasn’t a concern in relation to my chairmanship, it was about diffusing the situation.”

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