Borgata Phil Ivey

Gemaco Files for Summary Judgment in Phil Ivey / Borgata Edge-Sorting Case

Kansas City-based playing card manufacturer Gemaco, Inc. has filed a motion for summary judgment against Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel & Casino in connection with the high-profile Phil Ivey “edge sorting” case. The latest filing, made last week, comes after the Borgata’s parent company, Marina District Development, LLC, was forced to continue its action against Gemaco, which it had named as a co-defendant in its initial lawsuit against Ivey and his edge-sorting scheme partner Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun.

Gemaco LogoThe Borgata’s parent company had named Gemaco as a co-defendant whe filing the case back in 2014, alleging that Gemaco had provided the casino with flawed, defective playing cards, which thereby enabled Ivey and Sun to pull off their scheme against the casino. Several months ago, after the Borgata won a judgment against Ivey and Sun for more than $10 million, presiding judge Noel L Hillman refused to allow the Borg’s attorneys to voluntarily dismiss the portion of the lawsuit naming Gemaco.

In essence, Judge Hillman put the onus on the Borgata to make its case against Gemaco; if the cardmaker was indeed negligent in any way, then it should pay a portion of the damages. This is Gemaco’s first full filing since that portion of the case was ordered to continue, and it’s a heavyweight entry. The 22-page motion (technically a “renewed cross-motion for summary judgment), is supported by a 61-page supporting brief and 29 separate exhibits that collectively total more than 1,000 pages.

There’s a ton of newly public information in here, and we’ll examine some of that in follow-up posts. This includes the testimony of acclaimed professional gambler and blackjack player Arnold Snyder. Snyder’s testimony directly assails many of the Borgata’s claims, again focusing on whether the Borgata ultimately engaged in a massive freeroll involving the many millions of dollars wagered by Ivey.

For this update, however, we’ll focus on some of the high points offered by the Gemaco in its latest filings. In the primary filings, Gemaco’s counsel, Jeffrey W. Mazzola, skims over most of the allegations involving Ivey and Sun’s behavior, instead focusing on the key allegations made by the Borgata against the prominent cardmaker.

Gemaco’s response specifically denies many of the representations made by Borgata’s counsel as “Statements of Fact,” repeatedly describing them with words such as “misrepresents,” “mischaracterizes,” “fails to identify” (meaning the nonexistence of the basis for certain claims), and so on.

Among the highlights:

The Borgata asserted: “Edge sorting is possible only when the playing cards are not cut symmetrically during the manufacturing process because the two long edges of the cards are not identical and can be differentiated one from the other.”

Gemaco’s response:

“Deny. Plaintiff misrepresents the Court’s Opinion and fails to include the nineteen additional steps this Court cites to in explaining “edge sorting,” not limited to the requirement that the dealer follow the instructions from Sun and that the edges of the cards face the same direction, which can be accomplished by using an automatic shuffler, which was utilized in the Ivey and Sun gaming trips. [] In addition, Sun confirmed that she can identify imperfections with any cards, regardless of who manufactures them. [] Sun further testified that the card manufacturer is irrelevant and that she is able to gain an advantage with any card and can pick up imperfections in almost all instances. [] Ms. Sun further testified that the card dealers following her instructions and turning the cards gives her an advantage and that she would not have this advantage if the card dealers failed to turn the cards.”

As we’ve noted in previous updates on the case, Sun and Ivey testified that they sought casinos using the bright-purple Gemaco cards simply because they were among the easiest to expoit via Sunn’s expertly trained eyesight. However, that was due to the bright purple color of the card backs, and not to any supposed “flaw” or “defect” in the printing of the cards themselves. All casinos are offered a wide variety of designs and colors for use in their personalized casino decks, and the Borgata chose to use that bright purple.

Next, the Borgata asserted: “The playing cards at issue in this case were not cut symmetrically and were therefore able to be edge sorted.”

Gemaco’s response:

“Deny. Plaintiff misrepresents the Court’s Opinion; there was never a finding by this Court that the Gemaco playing cards at issue were not cut symmetrically, nor is there any language in the Court’s Opinion that states such.” [The response then continued with the bulk of the text from the previous point.]

Here’s another important response from Gemaco. In this statement, the Borgata asserted, “The backs of the cards at issue contain markings that differentiate one card from other cards in the deck. Declaration of Richard McEvoy (“McEvoy Decl.”) Exhs. A-C.”

Gemaco’s response:

“Deny. The New Jersey State Police conducted its own investigation into Ivey and Sun’s 2012 gaming trips. (Exhibit BB, Detective Andrew Koch Dep. [], August 13, 2015). Detective Koch inspected the playing cards Ivey and Sun used during July 27, 2012 game. Detective Koch testified that one box of playing cards has eight decks of cards and the cards in each box were cut the same. He further testified that all the cards that all the cards in the box, which was 416 cards, all had substantially the same pattern. Further denied on the basis set forth in Paragraphs 15 and 16 above (those are the two earlier points and responses above – hh). Sun was able to differentiate the backs of cards due to the Borgata card dealer turning the cards pursuant to her instructions. Further denied on the grounds that Borgata destroyed the playing cards at issue from the April 2012 and May 2012 plays. The cards used by Ivey and Sun in April 2012 were destroyed by Borgata.”

There are many more points wherein Gemaco stridently denies the Borgata’s claims. Here’s another:

The Borgata asserted, “The patterns on the back of the gaming cards at issue in this case are off-center [] and therefore violate N.J.A.C. §13.69E-1.17(d). [“N.J.A.C.” is the acronym for New Jersey’s collective gambling statutes.]”

Gemaco’s response:

“Deny. Plaintiff makes a blatant mischaracterization of the Court’s Opinion; the Court’s Opinion does not state that off-center cards violate [N.J.A.C.]. The Court’s findings were limited to a finding that Ivey and Sun violated the Casino Control Act (“CCA”). The Court’s Opinion never even mentions N.J.A.C. …”

There’s even a section wherein Gemaco addresses prior testimony from its own plant manager, Michael Fluty, in which Fluty acknowledged, according to the Borgata’s interpretation, that the 1/32-inch print tolerance allowed on finished cards is only because of the mechanical allowances of Gemaco’s printing machines, rather than being a de facto standard, which it actually is.

The Borgata’s assertions of “flawed” printing have attempted to highly contrast Fluty’s words with language in the N.J.A.C. supposedly requiring “identical” cards. The Borgata has summarily ignored the truth that if oriented in the same direction, all cards in a single deck are indeed identical without the use of magnification, and it was the Borgata’s own accession to Ivey’s and Sun’s demands (made without the knowledge of Gemaco), that allowed the edge-sorting scheme to succeed.

As the Borgata asserted, “There is no industry standard for where the pattern on the backs of playing cards falls relative to the edges. Deposition of Michael Fluty. …”

Gemaco’s response:

“Admit that Michael Fluty so testified. However, deny that there is no accepted industry standard. Kaye Summers, former president and CEO of Gemaco, testified that based on her experience in the industry of manufacturing playing cards, other card manufacturers subscribe and agree that there is 1/32 of an inch variance tolerance in the playing card manufacturing industry. Her testimony is based on conversations with employees, the information other manufacturing companies have conveyed to employees of Gemaco. [Exhibit reference] Kaye Summers also testified that Gemaco has been making playing cards specifically for casinos for 25 years and has always used that standard. A customer who is familiar with the casino industry knows of the 1/32 of an inch variance.”

And lastly there’s the matter of the Borgata’s own gross negligence, utter stupidity, or a multi-million dollar freerolling attempt by the prominent New Jersey casino in response to the Ivey-Sun scheme. The Borgata successfully prevented the testimony of two of Gemaco’s expert witnesses, William Zender and Arnold Snyder. Zender is a long-time gaming consultant based in Nevada, and Snyder is a professional blackjack player and author.

Both Zender and Snyder testified against the Borgata on virtually every claim the Borgata offered, from the legality of Ivey’s and Sun’s scheme to the general knowledge of edge sorting within the industry. It remains vital to the Borgata’s case that testimony such as Zender’s and Snyder’s be minimized, lest the incredulity of some of the Borg’s claims be fully exposed. We’ll pick it up there in a follow-up post.


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