Wynn loses HK$ 6 million appeal on junket deposit lawsuit

Wynn Macau has been ordered to refund a deposit of gaming chips worth HK$ 6 million. (Allin photo)

Casino firm Wynn Macau (1128) has been ordered to refund a deposit of gaming chips worth HK$ 6 million plus related interests of HK$ 3.65 million after it lost its appeal at Macau’s highest court regarding a junket deposit lawsuit involving the now defunct junket operator Dore Entertainment Co.

Macau’s Court of Final Appeal ruled that Wynn Macau shared joint liability towards third parties for any activity conducted by its gaming promoters in accordance with Article 29 of By-Law 6/2002.

The court’s verdict issued on 19 November also cited Article 3 of Law 16/2001, which stated that the concession contract between the Macau government and Wynn Macau requires the latter to answer for damages caused by entities it has contracted for the operation of activities that integrate the concession.

The lawsuit was filed by a plaintiff in a high-profile theft of junket deposits allegedly worth hundreds of millions of HK dollars from Dore Entertainment by an ex-cage manager from a VIP room at the Wynn Macau casino hotel in 2015.

More than 70 investors in the junket operator were believed to have suffered losses. But only four people have filed a complaint with the court, asking Dore Entertainment to refund a total of HK$ 64 million in junket deposits. However, only one plaintiff is able to provide a receipt of chip deposits as proof.

In April 2018, the Court of First Instance ruled that Dore Entertainment had to repay HK$ 6 million in gaming chip deposit to the above-mentioned plaintiff, but it held that Wynn Macau bore no responsibility.

The Court of Appeal then ruled in favour of the plaintiff in October 2018, deciding that Wynn Macau was jointly liable for repaying the deposit plus interest since it is the concessionaire that was overseeing the VIP room where the alleged theft took place. Wynn’s attempt to overturn this ruling has been rejected by the Court of Final Appeal.

The casino operator said it would seek legal advice in relation to the judgement, which it described as “final and binding to all parties”.

Industry insiders believed that the ruling would set a precedent for the relationship between casinos and junket operators: from now on, a gaming firm will have to shoulder the debts or financial liabilities entailed by VIP rooms run by gaming promoters it has contracted.