Damian Aspinall Reportedly Loses Stake in Namesake London Mayfair Casino Club

Posted on: August 21, 2023, 08:15h. 

Last updated on: August 21, 2023, 03:52h.

Damian Aspinall, 63, the son of the late John Aspinall, who helped legalize commercial gambling in the United Kingdom, has reportedly folded his stake in the family’s namesake private gambling club.

Damian Aspinall London casino Mayfair
Damian Aspinall is pictured with his then-wife, Victoria, in 2016. Aspinall has reportedly folded his stake in Crown London Aspinalls, a private casino club for UK’s high society. (Image: Shutterstock)

The Daily Mail’s Richard Eden writes in his latest “Eden Confidential” column that Aspinall has given up his 35% stake in Crown London Aspinalls. The casino is a private gambling club founded by his father in the 1960s in London’s ritzy Mayfair neighborhood.

Eden reports that Aspinall failed to pay off a £6 million (US$7.65 million) mortgage for an undisclosed property. The bank that issued the loan, Investec, has reportedly seized Aspinall’s stake in the casino club as a result.

It’s the end of an era,” a friend of Aspinall’s told Eden. “It’s not clear why he didn’t repay the mortgage.”

Aspinalls is reportedly worth around £200 million. It isn’t known how much Aspinall’s ownership position in Aspinalls was worth, though Eden says it was once valued at £50 million.

Controversial Matters

Aspinalls is one of London’s most exclusive gaming clubs, where its high-rolling members come from high society. It has faced several controversies in recent years.

In 2020, Aspinalls was hit with racial discrimination allegations by a former dealer, who said the staff was regularly abused by management and members. A three-judge employment tribunal found the posh club guilty a year later.

The plaintiff, Semhar Tesfagiorgi, a Black woman, alleged that her employer regularly accommodated guests who asked for a “white” or “whiter” table game dealer.

Our finding is that the claimant and her black female colleagues were held back from going on duty because they were not ‘fair-skinned, female dealers’ or ‘western-looking,'” Employment Judge Tina Elliott wrote in the court’s ruling. “The accommodation of the request was direct race discrimination of the claimant because but for her race she would have been asked to deal to the patron. The granting of that request was less favorable treatment by the managers because of race.”

Last year, a Malaysian businessman sued Aspinalls after he lost £4 million playing baccarat. Han Joeh Lim claimed the casino was legally responsible for intervening in his high-rolling session but did not. His lawsuit cited the UK Gambling Act, saying “vulnerable people should be protected from being harmed or exploited by gambling.” The case is ongoing.

Earlier this year, Aspinalls prevailed in a similar lawsuit brought by Lester Hui, a longtime Aspinalls member who refused to pay nearly £600,000 in losses on claims that the casino overserved him 54% proof “Chinese firewater” that rendered him “blackout drunk.” A court ruled Hui was responsible for the debt and that he had exaggerated his intoxication.

Aspinall Legacy

The UK’s extensive gaming industry can be partially credited to John Aspinall, who believed Chemin de Fer, commonly known as “Chemie” or “chemmy” in the 1940s and 1950s in London, circumvented Parliament’s prohibition on gambling. Chemin de Fer, or baccarat, is a comparing card game played between a player and a banker, the latter being a croupier, aka a dealer.

Aspinall ran small gambling rooms throughout London and evaded law enforcement by paying off the police. After his mother, Mary Osborne, who typically greased police, forgot to pay off the corrupt officers, a raid was carried out at one of his gambling clubs.

The subsequent lawsuit went in Aspinall’s favor, as the court ruled that Parliament did not explicitly ban private card clubs. The ruling led to the Betting and Gaming Act of 1960, which established regulations for private gambling clubs. The passing of the 1968 Gaming Act expanded gaming in the UK to allow commercial casinos.