Rich pickings on casino lists
HUNDREDS of Victorians on a secret high-rollers rich list are filling the coffers of Queensland’s biggest casino.
The list includes top Melbourne businessmen, lawyers, racing identities and the brother of convicted drug smuggler Tony Mokbel.
Tabcorp, owner of the Conrad Jupiters casino on the Gold Coast, expects to pocket $14 million from its elite interstate gamblers.
Total losses from Victoria’s army of gamblers heading north top $4 million.
Pokies players account for about $5.5 million, while well-heeled blackjack, baccarat and roulette punters lose $8.4 million.
Horty Mokbel, who is in jail over the alleged trafficking of $40 million of amphetamines, is revealed as a Conrad Club member.
He was banned from Crown casino in 2004, but a Tabcorp spokesman last night admitted the order aimed at preventing money laundering did not extend to Jupiters.
Dozens of sporting, business and legal identities are named on the leaked VIP list.
Tabcorp yesterday tried to prevent the publication of this report.
The Herald Sun has decided not to publish the punters’ names as they are engaging in a legal activity.
The rich list includes a high-profile Toorak society couple.
Despite living in Melbourne, the couple are ranked as Jupiters’ 15th and 47th ranked poker machine players with combined annual losses of about $100,000.
When contacted by the Herald Sun, the pair admitted to being Jupiters regulars but asked that their identities not be disclosed.
“We spend a lot of time up there but not at the casino. I mean we go there for dinner and we go and play on the pokies . . . I might go there a couple of times a week. But I’d be very grateful if you don’t put my name in there, I’d feel very stupid,” the female partner said.
The casino’s biggest punter is revealed as Michael Millard of Turramurra, NSW, whom Jupiters expects to part with more than $635,000 on roulette.
“I go in, cash a cheque of $200,000 or $300,000 and play. I only play roulette – about $40,000 a spin,” said Mr Millard, who made his fortune in metals trading.
Victorian restaurant chain owner Guiseppe Famulari revealed he had been to Jupiters as a VIP guest in recent weeks.
“I go up to have a break from the cold weather. Me and my wife will go up to enjoy the sun and in the meantime you gamble,” Mr Famulari said.
“It might be every six months or so. It’s nice to go up when they invite me. They pay for my flight, accommodation, food, everything. I don’t pay for anything.”As a matter of fact, I was there a couple of weeks ago. They paid for my flights, business class, and gave us a penthouse. And I won a little bit, too. But it doesn’t matter – someone’s going to win and someone is going to lose.”
About half of the high-rollers contacted by the Herald Sun said they travelled to the Gold Coast for business purposes and enjoyed a flutter at night.
“I don’t go there to gamble – I go there for the horse racing,” one punter said.
Horty Mokbel, 43 – the older brother of Tony – was refused bail on serious drugs charges in April.
The Melbourne Magistrates’ Court heard police feared he would use the same contacts and route as his more high-profile brother to abscond if he were freed on bail.
The court also heard Mokbel had a high level of “unexplained” wealth – bank account analysis revealed he spent $1.1 million over the past nine years, but had only $50,000 in earnings.
The Mokbels, including two brothers, Milad and Kabalan, and dozens of underworld identities have been permanently blacklisted from entering Crown casino.
Police and federal authorities are now pushing for national casino exclusion orders for all 13 Australian casinos.
A Tabcorp spokesman said Jupiters staff had been unaware of Mokbel’s background.
He said the gambling giant would support the introduction of nationwide bans.
“The time has come for casinos to not operate as state-based businesses, and that information about unwanted customers should be made available to all casinos across Australia,” the spokesman said.
But he said he was not surprised by the size of the losses by interstate gamblers.
“About five million customers visit the Jupiters casino and hotel complex every year,” he said.
“Some guests enjoy a small flutter and other guests will gamble in larger amounts, depending on their personal circumstances. It’s the nature of the Australian casino market.”