US District Court Orders Ivey to Pay Millions to Borgata
Phil Ivey has had ups and downs throughout his lengthy poker career, and he is said to be quite the sports bettor. But the game of baccarat has not been good to him. This week, the US District Court ruled against Ivey in a years-long case, wherein he now stands responsible for a $10.1 million judgment in favor of the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
This news comes nearly one year after a massive loss in a baccarat case in the UK, which went all the way to the UK Supreme Court in 2017. Ivey lost his final appeal there.
Here’s video footage of today’s UK Supreme Court ruling on the Phil Ivey/Crockfords baccarat appeal case. https://t.co/ya904AjBMA
— Willy Allison (@WillyJAllison) October 26, 2017
While the New Jersey case is not yet past the appeal process, Ivey has few outs left in the deck. And the ruling this week in the District Court does not bode well for Ivey’s overall case. Borgata wants its money and isn’t playing games anymore.
Borgata Back Story
The Borgata baccarat incident happened over four sessions between April and October of 2012. Ivey and gambling partner Cheung Yin Sun won a total of $9.6 million, all of which was paid to them upon winning each session.
The gambling duo used a technique called edge sorting, in which players use a keen eye to spot tiny flaws in the designs on the back of baccarat playing cards, and they mentally mark those cards to gain an advantage in the betting. Edge sorting is not generally considered cheating, but most casinos frown upon it and will ask players to leave if caught using the technique.
In April 2014, Borgata officials became aware of Ivey and Sun doing the same at Crockfords in the UK, and the Borgata filed a lawsuit against the two baccarat players, claiming they exploited manufacturing flaws in the cards and took advantage of the casino. The lawsuit included charges of fraud, racketeering, unjust enrichment, breach of contract, and civil conspiracy. The Borgata demanded the return of the entirety of the baccarat winnings.
More than one year later, Ivey and Sun countersued the Borgata for close to $10 million. Their lawsuit claimed that the casino knew what was happening and complied with all requests by the gamblers to keep certain decks in play, but the casino then destroyed the cards later so Ivey and Sun would be unable to use them as evidence in the case.
Poor Phil Ivey. Not only does Borgata want its money back, it also wants its estimated winnings and comps back too! https://t.co/Uo5Wvzfvn6
— Card Player (@CardPlayerMedia) November 14, 2016
A federal judge ruled on the case in October 2016 that many of the charges by the Borgata, including fraud, were not applicable, but the same judge did rule that Ivey and Sun breached their contract with the casino in the form of the Casino Control Act. The two were instructed to return the amount, which included the $9.6 million in baccarat winnings and money won at other casino tables, totaling nearly $10.1 million in all.
In early 2017, Ivey and Sun appealed the ruling, but the Borgata filed a motion to require Ivey and Sun to post bond, which would be a down payment on the money owed pending the appeals process. The US District Court denied that motion, however.
— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) June 13, 2017
In 2018, the Borgata requested that the court deny any more delays in the case and demand payment, but Ivey and Sun’s lawyers filed a motion in late July that they were unable to pay because the “enormity of that amount would clearly be of devastating impact.” The Borgata’s lawyers responded that Ivey and Sun would not be “prevented from pursuing their careers as professional gamblers” if the case moved forward by denying the delay.
— Card Player (@CardPlayerMedia) August 16, 2018
Per CardPlayer, the August 4 hearing heard arguments from Ivey’s lawyers that Ivey would not be able to pay a $10.1 million judgment while keeping his poker bankroll, but representatives for the Borgata argued that Ivey had “Borgata’s $10 million” and probably stored it away. In addition, they argued that Ivey can play numerous poker tournaments for “far less than $10,000,” and “one can play online poker with initial deposits of under $100.” They added, “He is not in danger of being prevented from playing poker,” especially considering his other business interests.
It took only a few weeks for the US District Court to rule this time. The judge denied Ivey’s motion to stay the $10.1 million judgment without bond. Per CardPlayer, the judge ruled, “Defendants have provided no proof to show how the ‘purely economic injury, compensable in money’ would ‘threaten the existence of their business.’” He continued, “Without any evidence to support their claim that they will be irreparably harmed if the Court does not stay the judgment pending appeal, defendants have not met their burden…to warrant a stay of the judgment pending their appeal.”
As it stands, Ivey and Sun now have only 30 days to appeal the case without posting the bond. After that period is over, Borgata can pursue collection of the full judgment.