A wealthy gambler who spent £27 million in five days playing roulette is suing a casino amid claims staff promised to pay him to play, but didn’t cough up after he won.
Croatian businessman Juste Puharic finished nearly £1.5 million up at the roulette table of The Park Lane Club in Mayfair, London after staking the £27 million between 26 and 30 May 2015.
But Mr Puharic claims the only reason he risked the huge sum at the club was because he was encouraged to play there with a cash-back offer on his stakes, after being singled out as a super-wealthy ‘valuable player’.
He says he is ‘contractually entitled’ to £243,518 – 0.9% commission on his gambling stakes of £27,057,621 – on top of the £1,466,056 winnings he bagged during his successful five-day stretch at the casino.
But Silverbond Enterprises Ltd, the club’s owners, denies the claim, saying they didn’t care whether he gambled at the club and they don’t owe him any money.
London’s High Court was told by Christopher Bamford, speaking for Mr Puharic, that the gambler had frequented Mayfair casinos since 2002 and was targeted as a valuable player in 2015.
He says Park Lane Club ‘wished to attract [Mr Puharic] to gamble at the club’.
He claims club staff treated him to coffee and dinner after approaching him on the street, encouraging him to play there by saying the casino would match or beat the best gaming terms offered by any other Mayfair club.
According to Mr Puharic, this meant the casino agreed to pay him a 0.9% commission on his stakes, via matching a cash-back offer he was getting at other clubs, whether he won or lost.
But Guy Olliff-Cooper, speaking on behalf of the Park Lane Club’s owners, denies the casino made Mr Puharic the offer, or even singled him out.
The barrister said: ‘It may have said that the club would do its best to be competitive and would therefore consider matching terms that Mr Puharic received elsewhere.’
But he insists that ‘no formal offer’ was made to Mr Puharic.
Mr Olliff-Cooper also claims the member of staff who approached Mr Puharic in the street was ‘not particularly interested’ in encouraging him to play at the casino.
He told Judge Gavin Mansfield QC that ‘he was simply trying to be polite’.
He added: ‘Casinos use a variety of incentives to attract customers. The defendant’s position is simply that it never made him this matching offer.
‘The defendant did not offer to match or better the incentives that Mr Puharic received at other Mayfair casinos. This action should be dismissed.’
Discretionary free hospitality and commission which could be used as a ‘discount on losses’, but not claimed by a player who won, was the only incentive offered to roulette players at the Park Lane Club.
Mr Puharic was involved in a dispute last year over the ownership of £5 million worth of classic cars, which he said he owned but were taken from a hotel in Mayfair.
The judge will give his decision on Mr Puharic’s claim against the casino at a later date.
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