A Croatian businessman is suing the Park Lane Club in Mayfair over alleged unpaid commission stemming from a five-day session in which he gambled some £27 million at the roulette wheel.
Juste Puharic walked away with some £1.5 million in winnings, but he claims that the casino’s bosses had promised to pay him a commission of 0.9% on his stakes – that works out at a cool £243,000.
The legal case has made it all the way to London’s High Court after five years of back and forth, and it’s the latest slice of bad news for the Park Lane Club after Silverbond Enterprises, who operate the Mayfair venue, lost their licence earlier in November.
The case revolves around the assertion made by Puharic that the only reason he had frequented the Park Lane Club was because he had been promised the commission – essentially a cash back scheme – when he visited the capital between May 26 and 30 back in 2015. The Croat had been designated as a ‘valuable player’ by the firm, with his lawyer Christopher Bamford telling the court that Park Lane wished to attract his client to the club.
The 51-year-old also alleges that staff at the casino approached him on the street, promising him dinner and coffee if he came inside and that the firm would ‘match or beat’ any other commission terms being offered to the high roller.
From Bad to Worse for Silverbond
In their defence, representatives of Silverbond Enterprises have been incredibly defiant – claiming they ‘didn’t care’ whether Puharic gambled with them and that they didn’t owe him any money.
Guy Olliff-Cooper, who has been defending Silverbond throughout the proceedings, said that ‘…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.’ However, he denied that any formal offer was ever made to the claimant.
And as for approaching Puharic in the street, Olliff-Cooper claimed that the member of staff was ‘simply trying to be polite’, and was ‘not particularly interested’ in getting the claimant into the casino.
“Casinos use a variety of incentives to attract customers,” the lawyer said in his defence material. “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.”
Interestingly, this is not Puharic’s first legal action in the UK, and in 2019 he filed a writ after a fleet of classic cars he owned – said to be worth more than £5 million – were allegedly stolen from a Mayfair hotel.
Meanwhile, the Park Lane Club case continues, and the figures behind Silverbond Enterprises will be hoping for a satisfactory conclusion.
They have already had their licence revoked by the UK Gambling Commission following a series of breaches of their terms and conditions, which includes allegations of ineffective anti-money laundering policies and an inability to identify problem gamblers on the premises. The casino will shut for good on November 18, with London of course in the midst of the nationwide lockdown anyway.