Australian Judge Tosses VIP’s Bid to Nix AU$43m Star Casino Gambling Debt

  • Wong allegedly lost millions playing baccarat at Star Gold Coast Casino in 2018
  • The Queensland casino alleges a cheque Wong provided to them bounced
  • The casino filed suits in Queensland and Singapore, with the latter’s court tossing it
  • The Star lodged its third Wong-related lawsuit in Queensland in February 2020
  • Wong lost his ‘abuse of process’ appeal, meaning The Star can continue its lawsuit
The Star Gold Coast Casino
A judge has dismissed VIP gambler Dr. Wong’s appeal against a suit brought over an alleged AU$43m (US$30.73m) gambling debt incurred at Star Gold Coast Casino (pictured above) in Queensland. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Billionaire doctor loses appeal

A judge in Australia has denied Singapore-based billionaire Dr. Yew Choy Wong’s request to have a suit brought by The Star Entertainment Group thrown out of court. The case relates to an alleged AU$43m (US$30.73m) gambling debt incurred by the high roller.

a cheque Wong provided to them bounced

Wong allegedly lost tens of millions of dollars in one week playing baccarat at Star Gold Coast Casino in July 2018. The luxury casino in Broadbeach, Queensland, alleges a cheque Wong provided to them bounced.

Supreme Court Library Queensland took to Twitter Friday with news of the Wong v The Star Entertainment ruling:

In February 2020, operator The Star Entertainment started proceedings in the Supreme Court in Brisbane, suing Wong for the millions he allegedly owed. Claiming the proceedings represented an ”abuse of process” — because it was The Star’s third attempt to recover the cash via the courts — Wong applied to have the case thrown out.

In the Queensland Court of Appeal in Brisbane on Friday, Judge Justin Philip McMurdo ruled against the high-rolling doctor, ruling that Star’s suit could go ahead.

Third time’s the charm

According to InQueensland, The Star had originally lodged proceedings in Queensland and Singapore in 2019. Six weeks into the Singapore suit, The Star pulled out of the Queensland proceedings. The Singapore High Court then dismissed the suit against Wong, citing legislation forbidding the government from helping foreign companies seeking to recoup debts linked to overseas gambling.

Judge McMurdo wrote Friday that the Star’s decision to sue in the southeast Asian country “may have been ill-advised.” He then elaborated, adding: “In hindsight, the Singapore proceeding could be said to have caused an unfortunate delay in the ultimate resolution of this dispute.” McMurdo also noted that despite a judge tossing the Singapore lawsuit, Wong should not have assumed his wrangle with The Star was over.

The Star lodged its third Wong-related lawsuit in Queensland in February 2020. Wong’s legal team subsequently labeled this an abuse of process, accusing The Star of using the courts to “hedge its bets” after its Singapore challenge failed.

Free to pursue the suit

The doctor’s legal team said its client was once again “forced to confront the same allegations in a different proceeding.” The lawyers argued, therefore, that The Star had engaged in conduct that “has occasioned unjustifiable oppression to him, and it has brought the administration of justice into disrepute.”

The Star, like its rival Crown Resorts, is under intense government scrutiny for several potential non-compliance cases, including money laundering. In July, the gambling giant announced it was under investigation by the AUSTRAC. In October, The Star offloaded some of its buildings in Brisbane, including the Treasury Hotel and Casino, via an AU$248m (US$185.9m) sale and leaseback deal.

McMurdo wrote, however, that the criticism of bringing the administration of justice into disrepute “falls far short.” McMurdo concluded that the case was not an abuse of process and ordered Wong’s appeal be dismissed with costs.

It leaves embattled The Star free to pursue its suit for the millions it claims it’s owned, with the case slated to continue in the Supreme Court at a later date.