Mayfair Casino Wins Legal Battle Against Phil Ivey

ian bruce
Written by Ian Bruce
Published on Monday 7th November 2016, 11:37 am
Posted in: Casino Legal

Casino Legal

A Mayfair casino has won its lengthy legal battle with professional poker player Phil Ivey after the Court of Appeal dismissed Ivey’s challenge of a High Court judgement made in 2014. The legal battle concerned a sum of £7.7 million that Ivey had won whilst playing Punto Banco at the Crockfords Club in Mayfair, London, in August 2012. Ivey had used an ‘edge sorting’ technique to observe and profit from discrepancies that he noticed on the back of the casino’s playing cards, but Crockfords refused to pay the winnings, maintaining that edge sorting could be seen to amount to cheating.

Crockfords returned Ivey’s £1 million stake money, but the player wasn’t happy with that and the argument went to the courts. Ivey lost the case in October 2014, with High Court Judge John Mitting saying that: ‘He gave himself an advantage which the game precludes. This is, in my view, cheating.’ 

Following that ruling, Ivey expressed his frustration with the outcome. ‘I am obviously disappointed with this judge's decision,’ he said. ‘As I said in court, it is not my nature to cheat and I would never do anything to risk my reputation.’

Ivey was granted permission to appeal against the ruling earlier this year, when Lord Justice Lewison looked at the case and decided that the details raised ‘an important question of law and have a real prospect of success.’

That comment give Ivey some hope that he might win his appeal. ‘This wording from the Court of Appeal, that the grounds of our appeal raise an important question of law and have real prospects of success is quite simply the best news I’ve had,’ he said at the time.

Now, more than four years after the £7.7 million was originally won at the Punto Banco tables in the central London casino, Ivey has lost his appeal. Lady Justice Arden said that it is perfectly possible to cheat even if one doesn’t have an intent to deceive, and that she believed Ivey’s edge sorting technique had interfered with the game. ‘It is for the court to determine whether the interference was of such a quality as to constitute cheating,’ she said. ‘In my judgment it had that quality.’

Speaking for Genting UK, President and Chief Operating Officer Paul Willcock said: ‘Crockfords has acted fairly and honestly at all times and we are therefore pleased that the Court of Appeal has held that the decision not to pay out to Mr Ivey was the correct one.’

Ivey was obviously disappointed with the ruling. ‘The trial judge said that I was not dishonest and the three appeal judges agreed, but somehow the decision has gone against me,’ he said. ‘Can someone tell me how you can have honest cheating?’

That is a question that Ivey’s lawyer, Matthew Dowd, would also like an answer to. ‘The court of appeal’s decision leaves the law totally unclear as to what constitutes cheating at gambling,’ he said. ‘Four judges have looked at this issue now and none of them have been able to agree on the correct interpretation of section 42 of the Gambling Act. It is essential that the law is clarified and, in light of today’s decision, we are seeking permission to appeal to the supreme court.’

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