Some of us might recognise the feeling of spending a bit too much on a night out. Perhaps the drinks were flowing, the night felt young, and so what was supposed to be a sophisticated meal out with friends turned into a drowsy 3am taxi ride home £150 lighter.
Whoops. Just have to cut back a bit next week, right?
How’s £600k for a headache in the morning?
That is how much one Lester Hui lost on a night in the famous high end casino Aspinall’s all the way back in 2016, and as you can imagine, cutting back on his food shop the week after wasn’t going to make it up.
So instead, he decided simply not to pay.
Now, he’s in court.
Blackout Drunk on Firewater
The story goes that on the 9th February 2016, Lester Hui was playing double chance baccarat at the exclusive casino in Curzon Street, Mayfair.
He did ok to begin with but then his luck changed, nevertheless, he carried on enjoying himself, drinking and gambling, until he was down by £600k.
He wrote the casino a cheque for the money and went home; the casino duly cashed the cheque, and it bounced.
Aspinall’s tried several times over a number of years to settle the matter privately, but after 7 years are finally taking Mr Hui to court.
Mr Hui claims that he was ‘blackout drunk’ when he made the losses, and that the casino therefore failed in their social responsibility duties by letting him continue to play.
He has even gone further by claiming that the staff were encouraging him to drink excess amounts of Moutai – a highly intoxicating Chinese liquor known as fire water – so that he would keep gambling.
These are very strong allegations against any casino, let alone one as famous as Aspinall’s, which is a members only club that relies on its reputation as a gambling house where wealthy/famous/important people can bet at high stakes in plush surroundings and get the very best service.
The case is yet to be resolved, but I already know what I think.
I’m going to put my flag in the sand early here and say that I think Mr Hui is full of it, and here are a few reasons why.
Lester Hui has been a member of Aspinall’s since 1996, which is two decades at the point the incident occurred. Therefore, he was well known at the club by staff and dealers, none of whom noticed anything different about him on the night. Management had even played golf with him in the past, and checked in with him several times on the night. His claims of being ‘blackout drunk’ therefore, are perhaps a little over egged.
Secondly, Mr Hui DROVE HOME after the night in question. Again, ‘blackout’ drunk? So is he admitting to drinking and driving? Driving while unconscious? Some mixed messages here to say the least.
Next up, is the fact that there is CCTV footage of him playing the game which shows zero evidence of someone so off their face that they can not be held accountable for their actions.
A more minor point, but one worth mentioning nonetheless, is that due to Hui’s long history with the club, there is email and anecdotal evidence of him having a habit of claiming to have been ‘drunk’ before changing his position.
Then there is Mr Hui’s claim that (despite being blackout drunk) he remembers telling staff that he planned to get drunk, and therefore wanted to limit his losses to £30,000. Essentially then, he says he asked the casino to cut him off at this point. This is a mad claim for a number of reasons; because if he had told staff he was planning on getting drunk, they wouldn’t have let him play in the first place, and on top of this, it’s Aspinall’s, not some black market set up in a Peckham basement. If he asked to be cut off at £30k he would have been.
Lastly, and tagging on to the previous point, is that Aspinall’s is a place where high rollers win and lose millions all the time. Are they really going to risk their 60 year reputation as a high class establishment for £600k? It’s a lot of money to you and me, sure, but for a casino with revenues in the tens of millions it’s not really worth risking the whole business for, is it?
Oh go on then, one more. Hui’s cheque bounced. Usually, a bouncy cheque means the person writing it is broke. Given that Hui is a member of an exclusive members only casino, he probably isn’t ‘broke’ as the word makes sense to you and me, but he certainly didn’t have enough money in his account, which means he was/is struggling for cash, which is a really great reason to make up a story about why you shouldn’t have to pay your gambling debts.