Losing streak

The last time Tulkinghorn dabbled in gambling, he was left hailing a taxi in his underpants in downtown Hong Kong. He now understands that this is an activity best experienced virtually, via the internet.

Like Robert De Niro’s character in Casino, law firms aren’t necessarily averse to benefiting from people chucking their money down the drain – online or otherwise. But sometimes the shoe is on the other foot.

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), the darling of the gambling world, sponsored a session of an online gambling conference in Macau.

The firm must have been rubbing its hands with glee when its name was up in lights during the speech given by Mark Hewson of Barclays Commercial Travel and Leisure. Certainly partner David Collins, a well-known expert on all things betting, looked pretty pleased with himself as the session got underway.

Things were going great until Hewson began outlining the difficulties his company faced after the US passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Collins’ face fell even further when Hewson, who was standing next to a massive ‘in association with BLP’ billboard, took the opportunity to thank his lawyers – at Clifford Chance.

BLP may well want to redraft the terms of its sponsorship agreements. As they stand, it’s a bit of a gamble.