SkyCity Adelaide high-roller sues operator for negligence after missing millions

SkyCity Adelaide
A Chinese high-roller gambler is suing one of Australia’s largest casino operators, claiming millions in casino winnings are missing.

Casino.org reports that millionaire Linong Ma, a resident of Hong Kong and China’s Shanxi province, alleged junket operator Xiongming Xie, who has links to organised crime, as well as his partner Zhuangqian Fang, have committed fraud, while SkyCity has committed negligence and breach of trust in relation to a missing A$4.84 million.

According to the complaint in May 2019, Ma visited SkyCity to gamble as part of Fang’s junket.

But Sydney-based Xie was in fact organising proceedings using China-based Fang’s junket licence.

According to court filings, Xie is banned from every casino in Australia and has “substantial gambling debts”.

Chinese VIPs typically pay money to junkets via bank transfer prior to their trip.

This gives them credit in the form of non-negotiable “rolling chips” at a casino VIP room, circumventing the strict controls on the movement of large amounts of money out of China.

Casino partners with junkets and usually pay them a monthly commission, provided the gamblers they bring generate a minimum guaranteed rolling chip turnover.

The junkets will settle up once the wealthy gamblers have returned to China.

Ma hit SkyCity on May 21, 2019 in the company of a Ms Goh, who was employed or engaged by Mr Xie as an escort or hostess for high-rollers, according to the lawsuit.

Joining them was a Ms Zhang, who also appeared to be in the employ of Xie.

Ma goes on winning streak

Big casino win for Ma
Ma initially withdrew A$400,000 in chips to play baccarat and promptly lost A$370,000.

The next day, he reloaded with another A$600,000 worth of chips and went on a winning streak, amassing chips to the value of A$5,048,000 on top of his stake.

When Ma tried to cash out his chips, Goh told him it couldn’t be done until the following Monday.

An argument ensued between Ma and two women, who were “behaving in a furtive and suspicious manner”, according to the complaint.

SkyCity employees then placed the chips in a safety deposit box.

Ma claims they told him only he could access the box.

The businessman had to return to Hong Kong to attend his son’s graduation and he planned to collect his winnings in June on his return to Adelaide, where he has significant business investments.

According to court documents, on May 29, someone at SkyCity transferred most of the money to Xie, who has made no attempt since to settle with Ma.

The lawsuit accuses Xie of being a “dangerous and violent criminal” with “links with Asian triad criminal gangs”.

According to past reports, he is the former deputy of a wealthy junket operator called Tom Zhou, known as Mr Chinatown, who worked with Crown Resorts and is wanted by Interpol for serious criminal conduct.

Xie faced criminal charges in Australia in 2019 over allegations he threatened a man with a knife while demanding the transfer of A$10 million property.

In 2016, hew as allegedly the target of an apparent murder attempt when he was stabbed outisde his Sydney home by two men of Asian appearance.

The lawsuit is embarrassing for SkyCity at a time when the Australian casino industry is facing high levels of scrutiny over its relationships with junket operators and their alleged links to organised crime.

A damning report published in February recommended that Crown Resorts should lose its NSW casino licence because it allowed money laundering in its gaming rooms.

William Brown

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