'Fat Man' told to pay £2m casino debt

One of the world’s biggest gamblers has been told by a high court judge to pay up a £2 million he owes to a London casino.

Fouad al-Zayat, affectionately known as ‘The Fat Man’, had gambled the extraordinary sum of £91 million over a period of 12 years. In that time he had lost £23 million at the Aspinalls Club Casino in London’s Mayfair.

"The scale of both his wealth and his gambling instincts are revealed by the fact that between October 1994 and April 2006 the defendant visited the claimant's club on over 600 occasions, purchasing gaming tokens to the value of over £91m and, in the process, losing over £23m,” judge Mr Justice David Steel revealed.

Though the casino were keen to keep his custom as one of the big ‘whales’ in gambling, the dispute came to a head after Mr al-Zayat had lost £2 million in one sitting at blackjack.

"We waited six years because he is a very important client. We have known him for years and he is a respected member of the club. Unfortunately we have shareholders and we couldn't allow it to go on,” said managing director of Aspinalls, James Osborne.

Owner of The Aspinalls Club Casino, Damian Aspinall, ordered a writ on Mr al-Zayat last year for a debt dating back to March 2000 after he had lost £10 million and refused to pay after a dispute with a croupier. Mr al-Zayat assets were then frozen, including the seizure of his Boeing 747 and Rolls Royce.

However, it is not the first time that the Syrian-born business man has been at the centre of a casino debt dispute. Back in March 2002, London’s Ritz Casino issued a writ against Mr al-Zayat for allegedly bouncing 7 cheques worth the sum of £2 million.

As a much liked member of West London's glitzy social circles and a very generous man who is known to tip waitresses £5,000 for simply bring him tea and biscuits, Mr al-Zayat knows his only vice.

“This is the only sin I have. I've lost a lot of money,” he said.

"I know it's wrong to lose money like this but if you have ever been to a casino you will understand what the atmosphere is like."

Editor, Jackpot.co.uk - 2007-03-01 10:55:12




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