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Borgata Seeks to Introduce Phil Ivey Crockfords UK Edge Sorting Ruling

Marina District Development Co, LLC, the parent company of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey, has filed notice with a New Jersey court that it plans to introduce the UK judgment in the recent lawsuit by poker pro Phil Ivey against London’s Crockfords Casino, in its own civil case against Ivey.

borgata-logoIvey lost the British case last week, failing to convince a High Court magistrate that Crockfords was in the wrong in withholding £7.7 million (USD $12.4 million) in winnings from Ivey after Ivey won against the casino in two 2010 visits while employing a card-identification technique known as edge-sorting at the casino’s high-stakes punto banco tables.  Crockfords did reimburse Ivey his initial £1 million deposit, prior to Ivey filing his lawsuit.

The Borgata’s counsel in the case, Jeremy Klausner of the Hackensack, NJ firm of Agostino & Associates, P.C., notified the court of its intent via the filing on Friday of a “Notice of Supplemental Authority.”  The notice asserts that the British decision in the case of Philip Ivey v. Genting Casinos Limited (Genting is the parent company of Crockfords) be accepted as evidence in the case because of the judge’s ruling in that case that the edge sorting admitted to by Ivey and Sun constituted cheating, even if not specifically declared as a specific form of cheating activity under British gambling statutes.

Wrote Klausner, “It is Plaintiff’s [Borgata’s] understanding that the case was not decided pursuant to England’s Gambling Act of 2005, but upon principles of common law as applied to the facts.”  Klausner admits being in contact with Genting’s attorneys in connection with the British case, also writing, “According to counsel for Genting, the judgment rendered by the High Court of Justice is that ‘edge sorting’ constitutes unfair play and cheating.

Though announced on October 8th, the formal written decision in the Ivey-Crockfords (Genting) case has yet to be published in written form.  FlushDraw hopes to obtain a copy of the High Court decision when it is made available.

The following paragraph, excerpted from Friday’s filing, explains why the Borgata and its counsel believes the UK court decision should be admitted as a form of evidence in the New Jersey case:

[The judgment] is instructive because it directly addresses the issue raised in Count I of Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint (among others), i.e., that “edge sorting” is unfair play and a breach of the parties’ agreement regarding the play of the Mini-Baccarat games at issue here. As such, it lends further support to Plaintiff’s opposition to Ivey’s and Sun’s Motion to Dismiss.  Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint is not an attempt to enforce New Jersey’s Casino Control Act and the regulations promulgated thereunder, and does not depend upon a finding that Defendants violated the CCA. Rather, Ivey’s conduct has now been judged to constitute unfair play and cheating, the essence of how Ivey breached his agreement with Borgata, exactly as he did with the casino in London. Moreover, as Plaintiff will argue in a separate application to this Court, the English judgment should collaterally estop [bar] Ivey from contending that “edge sorting” is fair play.

The notice goes further by imploring that Ivey, in the New Jersey case, should not be permitted to re-argue that the edge-sorting does not constitute a form of cheating, since he already lost the UK case on that matter.  Klausner’s argument implores the legal theory of “comity,” or international legal reciprocity, an implied understanding between nations with similar legal frameworks to respect the decisions of other international jurisdictions in highly similar legal matters.  Strictly speaking, however, the UK decision is not binding on the New Jersey court.

Phil IveyAs mentioned, the Borgata lawsuit against Ivey involves edge-sorting activities at the casino’s punto banco tables, which traditionally is a form of “no skill” mini-baccarat.  Ivey has already admitted the edge sorting occurred.  In both the Borgata and Crockfords episodes, Ivey was assisted at the tables by Las Vegas resident Cheung Yin Sun, a woman who is widely known as the “Queen of Sorts” in advantage-play circles and who has been banned from several casinos for her expertise in identifying tiny print variations on card backs.

When rotated through a series of “superstitious” manipulations employing several special requests by Ivey and Sun, the pair were able to identify the first card “off the shoe” (first card to be dealt) in any given hand.  The edge thus obtained by Ivey and Sun has been estimated at anywhere between 6% and 26%, with most estimates favoring the lower figure.  Ivey profited over the course of four lengthy visits to the Borgata’s tables, with the casino now suing Ivey to recover the more than $9.6 million it claims Ivey won illicitly at the casino’s punto banco tables.

Cheung Yin Sun, Gemaco (the manufacturer of the cards used in the Borgata edge-sorting affair), and an unnamed Gemaco quality-control supervisor are co-defendants in the Borgata lawsuit.

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