The idea of a gambler waking up with a sore head and filled with regret about money lost the night before is something of a cliché. However, a punter who lost £600,000 in a single night’s revelry at a high-end gambling club has failed to convince a judge that he was so blind drunk at the time that he should not have to cover his debt.
The man was a favoured client of the club, and when he booked a private room for himself and others, a luxurious banquet and alcohol were provided free of charge. At the gaming table, he initially won before starting to lose heavily. When his losses reached £500,000, the club granted him a £100,000 extension, but he lost that as well. After a commission was deducted from his bill, he owed £589,724. However, he had since failed to pay that debt or any part of it.
After the club launched proceedings with a view to recovering the debt, he asserted that he was blackout drunk when he placed his bets because the club’s employees had served him with copious amounts of alcohol. He contended that they knew he was incapacitated and deliberately failed to intervene to stop him gambling.
In upholding the club’s claim, however, the judge found that he had exaggerated his overall alcohol consumption. It was very likely that he had drunk more than a bottle of wine over the evening, together with champagne. However much he had imbibed, he had no wish to appear drunk and his high tolerance to alcohol meant that he would not have appeared intoxicated to the club’s personnel.
The court was satisfied that the club’s staff neither knew nor should have known that he was so intoxicated that he should not be allowed to gamble. In allowing him to continue placing bets, they did not breach the club’s policy or regulatory requirements. His other grounds of defence also fell on fallow ground.