The Saga of Phillip Ivey vs. Crockford Club Continues

Phillip Ivey Loses the Case but Will Appeal

Phillip Ivey, the professional casino and poker player, lost the case he had before the Appeal Court last year. On the other hand, he won the right to file an appeal on the decision, and this time, it will be before the Supreme Court. The case is about the implied term not to cheat which was in the gambling contract that Phillip Ivey signed before he started playing at the casino. According to the term, it is only a breach in the existence of dishonesty, which is according to Audrey Ferrie from the Pinsent Masons, who is an expert in gambling laws. She also added that the judgment from the Supreme Court would most likely take some weeks.

The case at hand first saw the light in November of last year. In that case, the Appeal Court gave its ruling that Phillip Ivey was in breach of the contract he had with the London Casino, Crockford's Club. Phillip Ivey used a kind of “Advantage Play” so he can win over 7.7 million English Pounds on a Punto Banco table. It is not a case of whether he used the advantage play or no, as he admitted that during his time at the Punto Banco table, he implemented “Edge Sorting.” According to the judgment of the Appeal Court, such methods exploit various design irregularities on the playing cards’ back, so he can have the upper hand during the game play, and to have an advantage over the casino, and this happened in August of 2012.

Ivey Claims There Was no Dishonesty In the Matter

Phillip Ivey stated that he used legit gamesmanship so he can convince the staff of the casino to rotate the playing cards so he can use the “Edge Sorting” technique and that Crockfords Casino should have known about the method so it can further protect itself against players who use it. He also added that for his actions to be considered cheating, there has to be a “dishonest state of mind.” He said that such state of mind was not evident, as he had the honest belief that the actions he was carrying out at the table were not cheating. Therefore, his play is not considered to be an act of cheating.

On the other hand, Crockfords casino’s arguments are that the casino, at that time, was unaware of the method of Edge sorting, and therefore, the use of the Edge Sorting Technique altered the game’s odds unfairly against the casino. The three judges of the Appeal Court who heard the case gave a split 2-to-1 decision which stated that Philip’s play is to be considered cheating according to the Gambling Act 2005.

Opinions on the Matter

Another view that supported the case that Crockford is building was by Lady Justice Arden. She stated that she does not consider that a state of dishonesty has to be present to make it a criminal cheating offense. She also added that any interference with the game, even without a proof of a dishonest state of mind, is enough to constitute the act of cheating.

However, Lady Justice Sharp said that suggesting that someone can be guilty of, what is called, “Honest Cheating” during a gambling activity was quite a shocking one, and that the language of the statue does not mandate such a thing.

What Does the Law Have to Say?

According to the Gambling Act, Section 42, it is an offense to either cheat or carry out any actions that have the purpose of helping or enabling another person to cheat to win at a gambling game. Winning is not necessary, as a player is committing an offense even if he cheated and did not win anything, as long as he improved his chances to win by cheating. The Gambling Act defines cheating as an act or the attempt to deceit or to interfere with the process of the game, whether it is a real time game, a virtual game, a race or any other game that relates to gambling. If the court finds a player guilty of cheating at gambling, the maximum sentence is two years in prison, and there is also a fine that the court can impose.

Why is This Case So Important and why it attracted a lot of Attention?

Audrey Ferrie from the Pinsent Masons stated that there are many reasons behind the importance of the case, which are behind its attraction of a great deal of interest in the gambling industry.  The first reason is that the case is the first instance to implement Section 42 that related to cheating in gambling, ever since the Gambling Act became active. There have been many arguments and controversy regarding using a skill in a gambling game. For example, some claim that poker is a game of skill, and some do not. The case is about the use of “Skill” during a competition to beat the house, and therefore, if Ivey succeeds in the appeal, this will open the way to other gamblers to use the “Edge Sorting” methods and to create other techniques to beat the house. Such thing will have disastrous monetary implications on the gambling operators and casinos as players will use cheating techniques and methods to win, knowing that if their case comes to court, they will most likely win it, and it is all because of this case.

Ivey’s case’s significant is also due to the trend in the growing amount of legal claims against the casinos regarding winnings. For instance, recently, a student sued Bet365 because she did not earn any winnings in return to her stakes that had a total of more than one million pounds, and that was on horse races. Bet365 claimed that the stakes that the student placed were through a 3rd party fund, which it finds in breach of its T & C.

The cases are certainly noteworthy in the context of the UK Gambling Commission’s agenda that it is currently pushing. The Gambling Commission is now pushing for gambling operators to be fair towards the players, and pushing for them to have clear T & C so everyone can know their rights.

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