Thursday July 2,2015 : AUSSIE CASINO NARROWLY AVERTED A $32 MILLION HIT
The tale of "the most expensive cocktail in the world" PR stunt.
Details of a narrowly averted $32 million cheating attempt associated with a PR stunt to sell the most expensive cocktail in the world were exposed by insiders to the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper this week.
The newspaper takes its readers back to 2013 when Crown Casino in Australia mounted a PR exercise based on a A$12,500 cocktail at its Club 23 bar – an enterprise owned by WSOP champion poker player Joe Hachem, cricket legend Shane Warne and casino owner James Packer.
The idea was to have New Zealand millionaire and VIP gambler James Manning achieve a Guinness Book of Records entry – with attendant publicity – by paying the five-figure sum for "The Winston" – a cocktail made with 1858-vintage Croizet Cuvee Leonie cognac, and a favourite of Britain's wartime leader, Winston Churchill.
Manning was suitably installed with his family in a luxurious villa at Crown Towers, and the rare bottle of cognac was flown to Australia.
"What Crown didn't know was that Manning had friends on the inside," the newspaper reports. On the night before the PR cocktail stunt was set to launch, "Manning embarked on an extraordinary winning streak on the card tables. Eight winning hands in the streak, which netted $32 million."
A former Crown executive told the newspaper this week: "We could not believe what he had won and some of the bets he placed were very, very suspicious. Those eight hands, in particular – he bet against the odds and won, so one of our surveillance guys decided to take a closer look."
The video surveillance expert realised that Crown's network of cameras in the VIP room had been breached and someone was giving signals to Manning at the table. Crown eventually worked out that the VIP services manager who had invited Manning to the casino was in on the "very elaborate" scam.
Unfortunately for Manning, the winnings had not left the casino, and a massive financial hit was averted, but the newspaper reports that Manning was evicted in the middle of the night and banned from the premises. He was perhaps fortunate that Crown's owners decided not to press charges.
However, that left the problem of the much-hyped PR cocktail stunt, and Crown had to run around finding a substitute buyer and a way to manipulate the situation so that he did not have to personally pay up…the whole issue makes for entertaining reading here: