Arab gambler loses money, wins case against London casino

September 4th, 2008 - 9:43 am ICT by IANS  

London, September 4 (IANS) An Arab billionaire, known just as ‘Fat man’, has won a legal battle against London’s top casino after losing over 2 million pounds in a night of gambling.In a judgment of the high court in London, Aspinall’s Club in Mayfair was found to have given illegal credit to Syrian businessman and gambler Fouad al-Zayat in the hope that he would carry on gambling while trying to pay off his debt.

That breach of Gaming Act principles meant the club has failed in its attempt to recoup the money lost by the colourful businessman, who bounced the 2 million pound cheque after a row over a croupier.

The case is of 2000 vintage when al-Zayat, who has made his fortune in the aviation field, had a bad March night at the club’s tables, staking 2 million pounds and losing it all.

The following day he wrote to the club complaining about a croupier and saying it had not been a “fair game”. Aspinall’s presented the cheque but it was refused by the bank, on the punter’s instructions.

The club began delicate negotiations with al-Zayat about repaying the 2 million pounds. In February 2001 al-Zayat told James Osborne, Aspinall’s managing director, that he was going through “a financial low”. He asked the club to allow him a year to pay, during which time he would continue to play the tables and make repayments from the winnings. Osborne agreed.

The club continued to write to him regarding the repayment, but in vain. Aspinall’s finally went to court to recover the debt in 2006, a few days before the legal limitation period expired.

By then al-Zayat had gambled 92 million pounds and lost 23 million pounds in 12 years as their customer.

The judge found that the 12-month deal to postpone payment of the 2 million pounds amounted to illegal credit under the Gaming Act 1968. Casinos are expected by law to show social responsibility by refusing punters credit in case it encourages people to squander money they cannot afford.

Fouad al-Zayat, who lives in Nicosia, Cyprus said in a statement that he felt vindicated by the judgment. Aspinall’s declined to comment. The case has shed light on the world of the finest London casinos and their peculiar mutual dependency with high-rolling clients known in the trade as “whales”.

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