Phil Ivey

Phil Ivey Sues Crockfords Casino over $12.1 Million Punto Banco Cashout

Phi Ivey’s struggle to cash out from London’s Crockford’s Casino the £7.8m (US $12.1 million) he won playing high-stakes Punto Banco last August continues to drag on, with the casino unwilling to fork over the winnings.  The latest development: Ivey has filed suit against Crockfords in an attempt to wrest his winnings free from the company.

phil-iveyThe details from this one are rather simple, and paint a picture generally in Ivey’s favor.  Ivey, who was in London last August to participate in World Series of Poker Europe events, visited the exclusive (though small by US casino standards) Crockfords club on successive nights, where he played some punto banco, a variation of baccarat with no actual player skill involved… to the point where the players themselves don’t even touch the cards.

(If you’re looking for a little more info on punto banco, this Wiki page gives the basics; it’s the form of baccarat most often found in North American casinos, and it’s a game with a narrow house edge, similar to craps.)

Ivey dropped roughly $800,000 his first night at the punto banco table, then returned the next night and went on a heater, cashing out his £7.8m in winnings from bets in the 100,000£ – 200,000£ range.  In the same way that Ivey sent money to the casino for gambling, via bank wire, he expected Crockfords to return his winnings the same way.

Instead, Crockfords returned only his original stake, and notified the United Kingdom’s Gaming Commission that the entire matter was under investigation.  Since the players themselves don’t touch the cards, the only reasonable explanation if some form of cheating was involved was collusion between the players and the casino staffers, except none was found.

Background checks into Ivey and the other players found one anomaly; Ivey’s “beautiful Oriental companion” from that night had been banned from another London casino previously, though apparently not for gambling offenses.  She’s never been publicly identified, and it’s more likely that her offense was prostitution- or drug-related.  In any event, she wouldn’t have touched the cards, either.

Crockfords still refused to pay, and the matter has dragged on for months between the attorneys for Ivey and the casino, with neither side willing to budge.  Crockfords officials have never adequately stated their grounds for withholding Ivey’s winnings, only acknowledging that they had done so.

Yesterday, Ivey filed suit against Crockfords and its parent company, Gentings, with Ivey’s representatives releasing a statement about the action this morning.  The brief presser follows:

Poker Champion Sues London Casino For $12.1 Million

Phil Ivey, the legendary US poker player who has won nine World Series of Poker Championship bracelets, and who won $12.1 million (£7.8m) playing Punto Banco at Crockfords in August 2012, is suing the casino for withholding his winnings. Crockfords is part of Genting Group, one of the world’s largest casino operators.

Commenting on the writ which was filed today (7 May 2013) at the High Court in London, Mr Ivey, 36, said:

“I am deeply saddened that Crockfords has left me no alternative but to proceed with legal action, following its decision to withhold my winnings. I have much respect for Gentings, which has made this a very difficult decision for me.

“Over the years I have won and lost substantial sums at Crockfords and I have always honoured my commitments. At the time, I was given a receipt for my winnings but Crockfords subsequently withheld payment. I, therefore, feel I have no alternative but to take legal action.”

Mr Ivey’s lawyer, Matthew Dowd of Archerfield Partners, said: “It is with great regret that Phil has been forced to issue court proceedings against Crockfords to secure payment of his winnings. The matter is now in the hands of the Court.”

Mr Ivey is represented by Archerfield Partners and Richard Spearman QC.

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