Last month, a former employee at Sydney’s Star Casino told the Seven Network a tale about an unidentified “senior minister from a foreign government” who’d been given the VIP treatment by Star management despite said dignitary allegedly having made wildly inappropriate drunken advances toward the dealer at his gaming table. The senior minister has since been outed in a Star Casino incident report as Belden Namah (pictured right), deputy prime minister of Papua New Guinea. Oh, and the blackjack dealer he propositioned was a guy.
A Star staff incident report uncovered by Fairfax media claims Namah and two colleagues were having (ahem) a gay old time in the Star’s VIP Sovereign Room until someone suggested they ease up on the mai-tais. At this point, the blackjack dealer stated that Namah began repeatedly pressing him for his mobile phone number, which then progressed/regressed to Namah propositioning him thusly: “Can I fuck you tonight?” “Can I love you? You are so pretty to me.” Asked to leave by Star security, Namah allegedly warned the bouncer: “You may be big but I will knock you on your fucking arse!” (To which, we hope he added: “And then can I fuck you?”)
Namah’s attorney Greg Sheppard says his client has “instructed us to issue a statement saying the person [named] is not him.” Sheppard said Namah “did not misconduct himself” and that the report’s allegations are “mistaken and inaccurate.” The Star’s management is issuing its own denials over allegations that, despite Namah being booted from the joint due to his behavior, he was readmitted because he had $800k sitting in a casino account just dying to be wagered. Echo Entertainment, which runs the Star, issued a statement saying that the gaming manager who readmitted Namah “was not aware of the full nature of the alleged comments made by the customer.”
Last month, Australia’s Casino Liquor and Gaming Control Authority launched an inquiry after the abrupt dismissal of Star managing director Sid Vaikunta over “inappropriate behavior in a work setting” and staff reports of a ‘permanent party’ culture. We suspect these latest headlines will only sharpen their investigative focus.
THAR SHE WELSHES
The expectation of acting with impunity isn’t the only problem VIP gamblers present to casinos. Sometimes, the (allegedly) fat bastards just don’t have the cash to pay their markers. On Monday, Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) went to Singapore’s High Court in a bid to compel one local resident, one Hong Kong resident and three Malaysians to repay a combined $8.5m advanced to them by RWS. The fattest of these whales, Malaysian citizen Wong Kah Hin, has owed $2.95m since Nov. 2010, but the checks he’s written RWS keep bouncing. (RWS’ crosstown rival, Marina Bay Sands, launched its own deadbeat-whale-hunting suits a few months back.)
Genting Singapore, which operates RWS, reported bad debt provisions of $121.1m for fiscal 2011, up 48% from 2010. However, Genting has been tightening its lending policies over the past few quarters as talk of a potential Asian economic slowdown grew louder. Prophets of doom will note that the Japanese whaling fleet called an early end to their season this year – the second straight year it’s done so – after taking only one-third of its intended haul. Could Asian whales be an endangered species? If you’re referring to the ones at the baccarat tables, fat chance.