A Vietnamese-American gambler has won his lawsuit against a Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) slots parlor, meaning he’ll get to collect on a $55.5m jackpot a machine awarded him in 2009. On Monday, the District 1 People’s Court in HCMC ruled in favor of 61-year-old businessman/slot jockey Ly Sam, ordering Dai Duong Company/Ocean Place, which runs the Palazzo Club gaming hall in the Sheraton Saigon Hotel, to pay Sam his winnings in full. The court also ordered Dai Duong to pay VND 1.2b (US $57.6k) in court costs, half of which will go to Sam. Dai Duong has already stated its intention to appeal the ruling.
Sam’s story began in October 2009, when ‘The Landlord’ slot machine he was playing – machine #13, for those of you who avoid supposed unlucky omens – informed him he’d won $55,542,291.70, despite the fact that none of the prize reels were aligned and the machine’s listed maximum payout was a mere $46k. These facts led the Palazzo Club’s manager to conclude that the machine had malfunctioned, and Sam was offered $300 as consolation for his dashed hopes. But Sam had the presence of mind to (a) get the names of other gamblers in the hall as witnesses and (b) take photos of the machine’s insistence that he was a new millionaire, and the legal fight began in earnest.
In making its ruling, the court determined that since the machine had issued no error report, no error had occurred. TuoiTreNews reported that the court rejected Dai Duong’s insistence that the machine had malfunctioned, further stating that Dai Duong’s removal of the machine’s motherboard and shipment of same overseas for technical inspection by BMM Compliance and manufacturer Weike Gaming Technology had deprived both Sam’s attorneys and Vietnamese regulators of an opportunity to conduct their own examination of the device, thus rendering it inadmissible evidence. Given the frequency with which slot machines experience such hiccups, Monday’s ruling could give pause to already wary international casino outfits currently contemplating a desire to build an integrated resort casino in Vietnam – or, at the very least, encourage them to rewrite supplier deals to shift more liability onto game manufacturers.
DA BUST IN DA NANG
After shutting down a major illegal casino just outside Hanoi in November, Vietnamese authorities took down a major sports betting operation in Da Nang shortly before Christmas. Following a 50-day investigation, police arrested seven individuals – including Le Ky Hoan, general director of the Trans-Indochina Joint Stock Company, Nguyen Van Vinh, chairman/CEO of Vinh Quang Nguyen Company and Nguyen Anh Cuong, the son of a seafood processing magnate – and seized dozens of credit cards, computers, mobile phones and VND 200m ($9.6k) in cash. Police said the betting ring had been operating since 2010, handling the equivalent of tens of millions of US dollars in wagers on international football matches. Vietnam.net reported that Cuong’s reputation as a wealthy scion allowed him to move large sums in and out of his personal accounts to agents located across Vietnam.