High-rolling gambler Lester Hui had been a member of a Mayfair Casino Aspinall’s for 20 years. He was one of their well-known customers due to his heavy spending and he would be given a ‘concierge service’ with complimentary food and drink as he often brought guests/new customers to the casino. A dispute arose in 2016 where Mr Hui had been enjoying a night at the casino.
The casino was celebrating the Chinese New Year and Mr Hui had been drinking heavily, he allegedly had drunk three and half bottles of champagne and 5 to 10 shots of Mao Tai, a 53% Chinese liquor. He was placing his bets against a blank signed personal cheque and his losses began to stack up and eventually reached in the region of £500,0000. He was provided an additional credit extension of £100,000 and after losing this money, he drove 20 miles home in his Bentley without paying.
The casino brought a claim for £589,724 under the Bills of Exchange Act and for breach of contract in 2019. The casino believed that Mr Hui was sober enough to make decisions and should have honoured the cheque, as he managed to drive himself home afterwards.
During the trial, Mr Hui claimed he had been ‘black out drunk’ and did not remember his gambling, and was therefore not able to enter into a contract with the casino in relation to his gambling. He claimed that ‘it would have been obvious’ to anyone who saw him that he was behaving unusually. He said that the casino staff should have ‘realised how much he had drunk’ and stopped him gambling.
Mr Hui blamed the casino for allowing him to gamble when he was intoxicated, further claiming that the staff allowed him to drive home while clearly drunk. Mr Hui claimed that previously he had never had such a huge loss and this was very unusual for him. Mr Hui said that he had set himself a gambling limit of £30,000 at the beginning of the night and had communicated this to the guests that he had brought to the casino.
However, we learnt that Mr Hui had a history of drinking a lot at the casino and placing a series of large bets. The guests that were with him also had a lack of belief or concern about how drunk Mr Hui was.
Mr Justice Cotter ruled that Mr Hui had the burden of establishing the evidence and facts to support his defence, therefore he had to prove that the casino staff were aware or should have been aware of his state of intoxication. The Judge believed that Mr Hui had exaggerated the amount of alcohol he had consumed during the evening.
The judge concluded that he was satisfied that Mr Hui did not have sufficient evidence or proof to show that the staff did or should have known that he was too drunk to gamble.
After a ten-day hearing, Mr Hui was therefore ordered to honour the cheque and pay the casino back the debt plus interest.
Mr Hui and Aspinall’s Casino must now agree a draft order for repayment between them.