London croupier alleges casino complicit in guests’ racial remarks

by Ethan Anderson Last Updated
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One of London’s most exclusive gambling venues has let its millionaire members racially abuse black croupiers, according to a recently filed claim by an affected employee.

Casino News Daily reports the allegations were leveled against the Crown London Aspinalls private members gambling club.

The property is located in the heart of Mayfair and frequented by wealthy high rollers.

Semhar Tesfagiorgis, who has worked as a dealer at the club for more than a decade, has filed the racial abuse claim with the London employment tribunal.

In her complaint, Ms Tesafiorgis said that Crown London Aspinalls managers allowed casino patrons to refer to black gambling chips in a derogatory way and that black croupiers were kept away from certain customers because of their skin colour.

According to tribunal papers seen by The Times, Ms Tesfagiorgis described an incident on her second day at work at the exclusive Mayfair casino back in 2007 that involved a wealthy Turkish gambler.

The gambler is alleged to have made derogatory remarks to the croupier, but was not barred from playing at the gambling hall.

Two years later, a similar incident took place at the casino involving the same gambler and employee.

The incident was recorded on the property’s CCTV.

In her filing, Ms Tesfagiorgis details multiple racial abuse incidents that have taken place throughout the years in her presence.

She said that she was removed from a certain gambler because of her skin colour.

Ms Tesfagiorgis said that she complained to the casino’s chief operating officer, Michael Branson, that she and her colleagues have been subjected to racial abuse.

Mr Branson allegedly told the croupier that the request made by customers to have fair-skinned dealers was the result of “pure superstition” and not of racism.

Ms Tesfagiorgis also noted the casino’s chief operating officer asked her if she expected him to “turn away a million-pound punter.”

In addition, Ms Tesfagiorgis claims that white staff members were given time off to look after their children, while the casino refused to accommodate her own requests for time off.

The casino employee said that she unsuccessfully tried to “reason with the management” over the years.

Crown London Aspinalls declined comment on the matter as there are ongoing legal proceedings.

China’s directive could hurt Crown Sydney

The Chinese government directive urging its citizens not to travel to Australia threatens to make Crown’s under construction $2.2 billion casino complex on Sydney Harbour a “white elephant”, according to industry experts.

The Guardian reported in June that the project can no longer rely on income from high-roller gamblers from China once it opens, who were initially central to its business model.

Gambling academics and city planners have expressed concern over the future of Crown’s Sydney casino at Barangaroo as a result of the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s warning to Chinese residents “to enhance their safety awareness and do not travel to Australia” issued last week, citing a spike in racism during the coronavirus pandemic.

Senior gaming industry advisers said the Chinese government had previously been successful in directing where Chinese citizens gamble, noting Macau, and while most Australian casinos will suffer from last week’s travel warning, it appears Crown’s planned Sydney venture will be impacted most directly.

Crown, whose ownership and allegations of high-roller junkets and money laundering are the subject of a New South Wales parliamentary inquiry and other planned inquiries – has attracted controversy over plan to target VIP players at the 75-floor tower that will also include 82 luxury apartments and a six-star hotel, due to open in December, ahead of the casino’s opening in early 2021.

However, the future revenue stream of the building, which was controversially approved for the city’s second casino licence in 2013, has been thrown into question after a drop in high rollers in recent years.

This has prompted industry observers to question the viability of the Crown Sydney project relying solely on foreign high rollers, and while Crown has not applied for poker machines – considered a reliable income source for casinos – its future rival Star City recently secured a 21-year exclusivity deal with the New South Wales government to be the only Sydney casino with poker machines.

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