Ivey Appeal Asks Circuit Court A $10 Million Question

March 26, 2019
Ivey Appeal Asks Circuit Court A $10 Million Question

The continuing case of Phil Ivey versus Borgata took another turn March 18 when his legal team filed a brief to the 3rd District US Court of Appeals. Ivey hopes to reverse a circuit court decision against him for more than $10 million from his edge sorting controversy.

More or less, Ivey wants the court to answer the fundamental questions about this case. Namely, Ivey still wants to know how what he did was improper and/or cheating.

Appeal re-argues most of Ivey’s points

In the new filing, Ivey’s legal team rehashed his main arguments for the appeals court. Some of his key points on why the appeal should be heard include:

  • The district court erred in not enforcing a six-month statute of limitations in filing a claim.
  • The original ruling stated that Ivey violated the Casino Control Act. However there was never an investigation by state regulators, and thus, that claim was improperly made.
  • The earlier court noted that Ivey and his accomplice, Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun, marked cards. However, the cards were never even in their hands. Attorneys argue edge sorting isn’t covered in New Jersey gaming law and remains a key issue in the case.
  • Ivey and Sun didn’t alter the game or rules in any way to tilt the odds in their favor, so didn’t violate any applicable gaming law.

The courts haven’t ruled in his favor, either here or abroad

The controversy stems from the poker star’s ongoing legal battle with Borgata. So far, Ivey has been on the short end of a series of court decisions.

In 2014, Borgata sued Ivey after he won millions of dollars in baccarat by using edge sorting. The casino argued the edge sorting technique Ivey and his accomplice utilized amounted to cheating.

A New Jersey circuit court agreed with the casino, ruling in 2016 that Ivey was in breach of contract with Borgata. The judge declared that Ivey and Sun had violated the state’s Casino Control Act through their manipulation of the baccarat game into a favorable proposition.

Borgata was not the only place that the duo used edge sorting. Ivey and Sun also used the technique to win $11 million playing Punto Banco, a form of baccarat, at Crockfords Casino in London.

However, after reviewing its security footage, Crockfords never wired the winnings to Ivey. Ivey filed suit in UK court.

Unfortunately for Ivey, a UK judge ruled that he had been “in breach of his contract” as a player in 2014. His use of edge sorting was indeed a form of cheating, the court ruled.

The court denied him the winnings and a later appeal affirmed that decision. He even appealed to the UK Supreme Court, which unanimously ruled in the casino’s favor in 2017. The cash stayed at Crockfords.

Ivey, for his part, has never admitted any wrongdoing in the use of edge sorting.

“The fact that I have issued a lawsuit in the face of what they are alleging says everything about how comfortable I am with my conduct and the validity of my win. Any allegations of wrongdoing by Crockfords are denied by me in the very strongest of terms.”

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What’s next

Borgata and Ivey have battled about money since the judgment in 2016. In February, a judge gave Borgata permission to pursue Ivey’s Nevada assets.

As a result, Ivey has been forced to put up a $10.16 million bond to pursue the issue on appeal. 

With the filing of Ivey’s 800-page filing, the appeals court now decides whether to hear the case. According to USCourts.gov, appeals are available after a US District Court trial for some of the following situations:

  • The losing side has issues with the trial court proceedings.
  • The law that was applied.
  • How the law was applied.

It remains unclear if Ivey has proper standing to appeal on those points. But, he’s certainly not giving up yet.

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