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Court clears Wynn Macau of $1.2M VIP Room deposit claim

September 11, 2023 Macau Casino & Hotel

The Court of Second Instance has ruled in favor of Wynn Macau, absolving the casino operator of a MOP10.4 million (US$1.2 million) compensation claim related to a VIP room deposit. The decision, dated July 6 this year, pertains to a collaboration contract between Wynn Resorts (Macau), S.A., and a junket operator dating back to September 2016.

The dispute arose when a gambler deposited HKD$10.1 million in cash chips into the junket’s VIP room gaming account in September 2015. The investor claimed that multiple unsuccessful attempts were made to withdraw this deposit. Consequently, a court case was initiated, seeking MOP10.4 million in compensation, along with default interest calculated from October 30, 2015, until full payment at the legal annual rate.

A prior court decision held Wynn jointly liable for the unrecovered amount, based on previous regulations governing junket activities from 2002. Subsequent rulings by the Court of Final Instance, starting in 2021, established that concessionaires shared responsibility with gaming promoters for activities within casinos.

Wynn’s appeal argued that the claim had expired, citing a three-year limitation period under the Civil Code, with the compensation claim only initiated in 2018. The Court of Second Instance determined that the 2022 law regulating junket operations did not apply in this case, as the decision and sentence occurred before its enactment. It emphasized that the legislator did not intend to equate the relationship between concessionaires and gambling promoters with joint liability to the principal/commissioner relationship.

Instead, the court applied the liability definition outlined in the Macau Civil Code, where an entity entrusting another with any commission is liable for damages caused by the commissioner. However, the court noted that gambling promoters did not undertake tasks as a “commission” entrusted to them by concessionaires.

Therefore, the court upheld the exception to the prescription, as invoked by Wynn, defined in article 491 of the Macau Civil Code, which absolved the claim due to the three-year period. The decision by Judge Rui Pereira Ribeiro maintained the contested decision in all other respects.

This legal development is significant in the context of casino operations in Macau and their responsibilities in cases involving lost deposits, particularly in VIP rooms operated by junket operators.

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