Singaporean high roller’s $5m cheque bounces at Gold Coast casino

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
Singaporean high roller?s $5m cheque bounces at Gold Coast casino

An Australian casino high roller had a $5 million cheque bounce at a Gold Coast casino, and the casino is now suing the high roller.

The Courier Mail reports The Star Gold Coast is suing Singaporean businessman Khong Yoong Mark Yong in the Brisbane Supreme Court, claiming the casino high roller gave the casino a $5 million cheque, dated February 1, 2018, to secure $5 million in gambling vouchers as part of the casino’s cheque cashing facility.

The Queensland casino claims that when its staff went to present the cheque in March 2018 at Sydney’s National Australia Bank, the cheque bounced.

The Star is suing Mr Yong for repayment of $3.86 million of the $5 million sum, after he repaid $1.19 million between May 2018 and January 2019, the claim states.

Mr Yong lists himself as a director of Damo resources, a mining company which mines for gold and other metals in Mongolia, China and Zimbabwe.

According to Mr Yong, he has a $3 million gambling limit with Crown casino in Melbourne and a two mill pound limit with Aspinalls in London.

He initially took out a $3 million cheque cashing facility in November 2017, but two months later made a written request to increase this to $5 million.

The Star slapped Mr Yong with a letter demanding full payment of the $3.8 million in November last year, but Mr Yong has failed to pay.

The Star applied to the Supreme Court registrar seeking a default judgment to order Mr Yong to pay, but the court declined to make the order on September 16.

Mr Yong has been served with the claim, but has not yet filed a defence.

The Star and other casinos always risk losing large amounts of cash when they agree to cash cheques written by their international high rollers immediately, and don’t bank the cheques for a month, in typical circumstances.

Domestic high rollers the new focus for Gold Coast casino

Gold Coast casino bosses say they are focusing on luring domestic high rollers with Chinese ‘whales’ – the term used for rich gamblers – not expected back in Australia for another year.

In July, the ABC said The Star Gold Coast was busy when it reopened its doors last Friday with another influx expected this Friday when the Queensland border reopens to interstate visitors – with the exception of Victorians, who are dealing with an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases.

The Star’s group executive of operations, Geoff Hogg, said hundreds of hotel rooms were booked, restaurants were full, and he was expecting more visitors from Friday.

“It’s a good milestone with the border opening and hopefully getting more demand into the city,” Mr Hogg said.

“We had a couple of restaurants open and The Darling Hotel [during lockdowns], but now to be operating a lot closer to full capacity is fantastic.”

The senior executive of more than 20 years in the casino game said the continued closure of international borders would impact on the group’s bottom line.

“Our international guests make anywhere up to 10 to 12 per cent of our business,” he said.

“It’s millions of dollars in our earnings and that’s quite significant.

“We all understand that part of our market is not going to be there for a lengthy period of time.

“We know that international tourism is certainly not something that we can rely on for at least a year.”

When the international borders do reopen there is no guarantee Chinese tourists will return in the same number after China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued an alert in June, reporting a “significant increase” in racist attacks on “Chinese and Asian people” due to COVID-19.

The warning came after China’s state-run tabloid Global Times published an editorial.

“The Ministry of Culture and Tourism reminds Chinese tourists to enhance their safety awareness and do not travel to Australia,” it said.

Tourism Research Australia said more than 1.3 million Chinese – excluding children – visited Australia in 2018 and spent $11.5 billion.

Mr Hogg said Chinese tourists were critical to Australia.

“Anything that holds that back is concerning,” he said.

“When international travel comes back you want all of those markets to be available.

“We have a lot of operators in Queensland, and on the Gold Coast, that heavily rely on those markets so you’d like to think that that isn’t impacted.”

With overseas high rollers locked out of the country for the foreseeable future, Mr Hogg said the focus would be on wealthy Australian gamblers.

“We do have some domestic customers that will be pretty critical and we’ll be trying to focus on them to come to the Gold Coast,” he said.

“For us it’s really about focusing on the markets you can influence.”

Those who do venture onto the casino floor will have to abide by new rules that include a limit of four people per gambling table.

Star lifts virtually all restrictions at casinos

Star Entertainment Group has lifted almost all restrictions related to the new COVID-19 pandemic at its largest casino in Sydney.

Tunf reported in July that the Australian casino operator announced this week that it will serve up to 5,000 customers at its New South Wales casino.

It also indicated that it will follow the protocols dictated by local authorities to maintain a minimum space of four square metres per person.

The Sydney casino was reopened on a limited basis on June 1 after being closed since mid-march to reduce the spread of the virus.

It could only gather up to 500 members of its loyalty rewards program when it initially reopened.

Since then, the casino has only operated its ‘private gaming rooms’ focused on VIP customers as well as various food and beverage outlets.

From now on, The Star will cater to loyalty club members, their special guests and the general public.

Table game stalls and electronic gaming machines may also operate on the property, respecting the distance requirements.

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