ACT News

Gambling insider claims he was shafted in multimillion Brumbies sponsorship deal

A casino insider who claims to have helped broker an $8 million sponsorship deal between the Brumbies and a Hong Kong-based business empire is suing the club for failing to pay him a finder's fee.

The deal between the Brumbies and developer and casino owner Aquis, owned by the billionaire Fung family, was the largest in the club's history

Aquis managing director Justin Fung, right, at the announcement of the company as the Brumbies' major sponsor in February
Aquis managing director Justin Fung, right, at the announcement of the company as the Brumbies' major sponsor in February Photo: Melissa Adams

It gave Aquis brand exposure in a city in which it had just purchased the sole casino, Casino Canberra, while helping the Brumbies shore up a financial future left uncertain after three consecutive years of losses.

But the man who says he put the deal together has claimed he was left out in the cold. 

Former Brumbies chief executive officer Doug Edwards
Former Brumbies chief executive officer Doug Edwards 

John Stanley Beagle, an 83-year-old gambling consultant, says he helped connect the Brumbies and Aquis in early December, just before the company officially announced their purchase of Canberra Casino.

Mr Beagle claims his services helped facilitate the deal between the two parties, and was led to believe he would be given a "finder's fee". 


But Mr Beagle, a founder of the Australian Casino Association, said that no payment was ever made.

He has since launched legal action in the ACT Supreme Court, represented by James Colquhoun, claiming "reasonable remuneration for work done and services provided". 

Outgoing Brumbies CEO Michael Jones
Outgoing Brumbies CEO Michael Jones  Photo: Jeffrey Chan

A Brumbies spokesman told Fairfax Media the claims would be disputed, but said the club couldn't comment in detail on a matter before the courts. 

"We will be defending the case," he said. 

In documents filed with the court in June, Mr Beagle said he called the Brumbies in early December to discuss a potential sponsor.

The next day, he said he met with senior club officials, including Doug Edwards, the then chief executive, and Simon Chester, the general manager of commercial operations.

He said the Brumbies gave him a 59-page sponsorship proposal the same day, which he later passed on to Aquis' communications consultant, RG Communications managing director Ben Ready.

Mr Beagle claimed to have then written to Mr Ready, saying:

"I realise it is premature to be looking at sponsorship when the finality of AQUIS and the Canberra Casino is not officially confirmed.

"Nonetheless, this is a unique opportunity if Aquis wish to align themselves with the best iconic Canberra brand.

"If you do get to Canberra in the coming weeks I would welcome an opportunity for you to meet with these passionate people and look at the possibilities that an association with Aquis could bring about.

"I have not told the Brumbies who I was obtaining the information for, nor has Aquis been mentioned at all in my dealings with the Brumbies."

He said he later discussed the proposal with Aquis executive Jessica Mellor and president Justin Fung, before meeting with the new Brumbies chief executive officer Michael Jones and Mr Chester again.

"At all material times the Brumbies realised that Beagle expected to be paid for the services," court documents allege.

Mr Beagle said he had twice told the Brumbies he expected a finder's fee if the sponsorship was arranged, and that both chief executives had agreed. 

He said the Brumbies eventually offered him $5000 and a "letter of appreciation" in February, something he rejected.

"Beagle claims fair and just compensation for restitution in respect of the unjust enrichment by the Brumbies."

Mr Beagle's original statement setting out his claim against the club was struck out last month, but he is appealing that decision and the case will reappear at a later date.

The proceedings in the ACT Supreme Court are in their early stages, and the appeal is expected to be heard by Associate Judge David Mossop.