Wynn wins court battle with gambler over HK$30m debt

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 February, 2010, 12:00am

Wynn Resorts (Macau) has won its High Court action against high roller Henry Mong Hengli over a HK$30 million gambling debt.

In giving judgment, Madame Justice Carlye Chu Fun-ling rejected Mong's defence that a credit agreement or marker signed by Mong was unenforceable.

Mong's lawyers in the groundbreaking case had argued that, among other issues, the credit agreement between Mong and Wynn did not receive advance approval from the local gaming regulator.

In 2004, Macau passed its first legislation on gaming credit, but to date Wynn appears to be the first casino operator to attempt to recoup debts through the courts in either Macau or Hong Kong.

Analysts and industry executives have said the implications of the outcome of the case could be magnified by Macau's heavy reliance on credit-driven casino play and the dominant role of the enclave's junket agents in the VIP gaming segment.

Wynn filed a lawsuit in January against Mong seeking repayment of up to HK$30 million in debt he incurred during a gambling session in August last year. Mong repaid HK$1,058,363 and then gave the casino a cheque for HK$28,941,637 that bounced.

Wynn's claim demanded the outstanding sum together with interest at 18 per cent from August 3 until the judgment and thereafter at the judgment rate.

Lawyers for Mong had argued that Macau was the appropriate forum for the suit, but the court accepted the case, citing the fact that Mong maintained bank accounts and owned property in the city.

Mong's lawyers argued yesterday that Macau law requires the Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau to individually approve such credit agreements and said Mong 'has put up an arguable case that should go to trial'.

Lawyers for Wynn, which is asking the court to enforce the gambling debt plus interest, said the Macau laws in question targeted credit agreements between casinos and VIP junket agents and were not focused on direct loans to players.

They argued that requiring casinos to seek advance approval from the bureau every time they issued credit to players would 'lead to commercial chaos'.