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Marina Bay Sands drops $10m lawsuit against Australian gambler

Mon, Jun 17, 9:25pm by Staff Writer

Marina Bay Sands, one of Singapore’s two casino resorts, has dropped a S$10 million lawsuit against an Australian high roller who failed to pay a gambling debt he amassed at the property five years ago.

Casino News Daily is reporting that earlier last week, Marina Bay Sands filed a notice of discontinuance with the High Court of Singapore, thus putting an end to a five-year court battle.

Marina Bay Sands previously sought recovery of a casino debt worth S$9,996,250, plus interest of S$3,782,690 and costs of $7,398 from Australian VIP gambler Wang Zhi Cai.

Mr Wang played at the casino in April 2013 and January 2014, court papers showed.

The high roller admitted to incurring losses at the gambling venue, it also became known.

When sought for comment, Marina Bay Sands said earlier this week that the matter has been resolved amicably.

Details about the settlement remained confidential.

Marina Bay Sands also invited Mr Wang back to its gaming floor “as a valued patron”.

The Australian gambler himself confirmed that he has reached a settlement with the casino and that he has been invited back to the property.

Marina Bay Sands had pursued Mr Wang to pay his debt for nearly five years.

In 2017, a Singapore court issued a default judgment in favour of Marina Bay Sands after the high roller patron failed to appear in court.

A Sydney court order issued shortly after enforced the Singapore judgment against Mr Wang’s assets in Australia.

Mr Wang has said he had not appeared in court because he had been unaware Marina Bay Sands had sued him.

The gambler further explained that he had refused to deal directly wit the casino because he had been introduced to the venue through a Beijing-based junket operator and that it was the operator that was supposed to pay for his losses and collect his winnings.

Marina Bay Sands’ lawyer, Kelvin Tan, has said previously that the property has had no domestic or overseas arrangements with junket operators.

The High Court of Singapore set aside earlier this year the 2017 default judgment against Mr Wang after listening to arguments presented by the legal teams of both the casino patron and the gambling venue.

If the case had gone to trial, the role of junket operators in the payment of gambling debts would have received broad attention.

As mentioned earlier, Marina Bay Sands is one of two integrated resorts with casinos in Singapore, the other being Genting’s Resorts World Sentosa.

Singapore cashing in on local casino entry fees

Higher entrance fees haven’t stopped rich Singaporeans of those feeling lucky from flocking to the country’s two casinos.

Bloomberg is reporting that the city-state has received about US$954 million in entrance fees from citizens and permanent residents since 2010 even as tourists are allowed to enter for free, Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo said in a response to a question in parliament on Monday.

Levies for Singaporeans and permanent residents to enter either Resorts World Sentosa or the more glitzy Marina Bay Sands were raised to S$150 a day or S$3000 a year last month.

That’s up from S$100 and S$2000.

Singapore initially introduced the charges to deter locals from gambling.

“The daily and annual entry levies serve to deter casual and impulse gambling by locals and are part of a holistic suite of social safeguards,” Teo said.

“Between 2010 and 2018, the number of local visitors to the casinos declined by 50 per cent.”

Singapore said last month it would extend the exclusive licences for the two casino operators until 2030 after they pledged to invest S$9 billion in additional tourism attractions.

Las Vegas Sands Corp’s Singapore venture will build a fourth tower at Marina Bay Sands plus a new entertainment arena, while Genting Singapore Ltd.’s Resorts World will construct two new theme zones and enlarge its aquarium.

For the new attractions to remain commercially viable, the government also agreed for both operators to increase their gaming facilities, beyond the current approved 15,000 square metres and 2,500 gaming machines each.

Marina Bay Sands will be given an option to expand its gaming area by an extra 2000 square metres and add 1000 more machines, while Resorts World can choose to add an extra 500 square metres and 800 more machines.

As part of the overall expansion, the duo will pay around S$2.3 billion for extra land, the New Paper reported, citing Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat.

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