Judge: Poker pro, friend must repay $10.1M
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Poker pro Phil Ivey and a companion must return more than $10 million they won from an Atlantic City casino while playing cards that were arranged in a certain way to give the players an edge.
A federal judge had previously ruled Ivey and companion player Cheng Yin Sun didn’t meet their obligation to follow gambling regulations on four occasions in 2012 by having a dealer at the Borgata arrange Baccarat cards so they could tell what kind of card was coming next.
Last week the judge ordered the pair to return $10.1 million to the casino. The order by U.S. District Court Judge Noel Hillman essentially returned both sides to where they were before Ivey and Sun began gambling at the Borgata.
The sum includes money that Ivey won playing craps with some of the money he won at the card table.
“This case involves the whims of Lady Luck, who casts uncertainty on every hand, despite the house odds,” Hillman wrote in his opinion. “Indeed, Lady Luck is like nectar to gamblers, because no one would otherwise play a game he knows he will always lose.”
He added that deciding the case involved “voiding a contract that was tainted from the beginning and breached as soon as it was executed.”
Ed Jacobs, the attorney for the nine-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner, stressed that the judge affirmed that Ivey had followed every rule of Baccarat and did not commit fraud.
“What this ruling says is a player is prohibited from combining his skill and intellect and visual acuity to beat the casino at its own game,” he said, adding Ivey will appeal the ruling soon. “The casino agreed to every single accommodation requested by Phil Ivey in his four visits because they were eager to try to win his money.”
The judge rejected a request by the casino to use a formula for calculating damages that could have seen the restitution go as high as $15.5 million. That method, assessing how much the casino could have won had Ivey and Chen not engaged in a style of play known as edge-sorting, was deemed too speculative.
The Borgata claimed the pair exploited a defect in cards that enabled them to sort and arrange good cards. The casino says the technique violates state casino gambling regulations. But Ivey asserts his win was simply the result of skill and good observation.
The Borgata claimed the cards used in the games were defective in that the pattern on the back was not uniform. The cards have rows of small white circles designed to look like the tops of cut diamonds, but the Borgata said some of them were only half-diamonds or quarters. Ivey has said he simply noticed things that anyone playing the game could have observed and bet accordingly.
The judge noted that Ivey and Sun instructed dealers to arrange the cards in a certain way, which is permitted under the rules of the game, after Sun noticed minute differences in them. But he ruled in October that those actions violated the state Casino Control Act and their contractual obligation to abide by it in gambling at the casino.
The judge rejected a request by the Borgata that Ivey repay nearly $250,000 in comps — listed only as “goods and services” — the casino extended him while playing there.
Trump University settlement filed in court
SAN DIEGO — Lawyers for Donald Trump and former students of his now-defunct Trump University have filed an agreement in court to settle lawsuits alleging that the president-elect defrauded them. The move signals that a deal announced last month remains on track for a judge’s approval next year.
Trump agreed last month to pay $25 million to settle two class-action lawsuits in San Diego and one by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Under the terms, the president-elect admits no wrongdoing.
The filing late Monday puts a formal agreement in front of U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel to determine if it is “fair, reasonable and adequate” under federal law.
When announcing the terms in his courtroom on Nov. 18, Curiel called it “the beginning of a healing process that this country sorely needs.”
Guest workers to split $2M under settlement
COLUMBIA, S.C. — About 240 guest workers at a luxury golf resort in South Carolina are splitting $2 million under a deal approved by a federal judge.
The order signed Dec. 16 by U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel applies to a pool of Jamaican guest workers who worked for Kiawah Island Golf Resort on H-2B visas.
The program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the country to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs. Several guest workers filed a class-action lawsuit last year accusing Kiawah of failing to properly pay them by deducting housing and transportation costs from their pay.
Under the agreement, housekeepers, cooks and other service workers would share $2 million. Kiawah has agreed to pay an additional $300,000 in legal fees.
Kiawah officials have denied the allegations.