The saga regarding the lawsuit between the Borgata in Atlantic City and poker professional Phil Ivey has been one that has dragged out much longer than anyone figured. Now the Borgata is trying to put an end to the case, getting an assist from the judge in the New Jersey case to sign off on efforts by the casino to attack Ivey’s assets in Nevada.

Federal Judge Sides with Borgata

U. S. District Court Judge Noel Hillman, who was the judge who made the initial ruling in favor of the Borgata, had adjudicated a previous motion that the Borgata could go after any and all assets that the 10-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner had in the Garden State. This ruling came after Hillman’s 2016 decision, which found that Ivey and an associate had defrauded the Borgata in winning $10.1 million in baccarat. As the Borgata searched, however, they learned that Ivey had no “tangible assets” in New Jersey to seize.

In filing their motions to Hillman, Borgata attorneys summarized that Ivey holds extensive property in the Silver State, including his ownership in Phil Ivey Enterprises and Ivey Poker. The attorneys also stated that there was extensive real estate that Ivey owned either outright or through his companies, including a home in Mexico. “As a result, good cause is show and Borgata should be permitted to register this Court’s December 15, 2016 decision in the District of Nevada,” the attorneys wrote.

Hillman took no time to render the decision. At the end of January, Hillman approved the move by the Borgata to get their money back. There has been no statement from Ivey’s attorneys nor from Ivey himself, who hasn’t been seen on the tournament poker scene since his 547th place finish at the 2018 World Series of Poker.

Does Ivey Face Further Problems?

Ivey’s attorneys have stated previously that paying back the Borgata the full $10 million would put a “professional hardship” on the poker pro, but that has already been dismissed by Hillman in previous hearings. If Ivey continues to dodge the Borgata and the decision from the federal court in New Jersey, it could impact several aspects of his life. Although this decision is a civil one, failure to pay the money back could draw further financial penalties from the court or even a criminal action.

So why is Ivey not paying the Borgata back? Estimates from some have Ivey’s net worth set around $100 million, but that could very well be in non-liquid assets (re: not cash). It is also possible that Ivey isn’t worth more than $10 million and the payment WOULD severely impact his jet-set lifestyle, which sees him travel to Macau regularly to play high stakes poker.

The Saga Continues…

The whole sordid saga dates back to 2012, when Ivey and a partner played baccarat at the Borgata. After acquiescing to a list of demands from Ivey, the Borgata then saw him run up a $9.7 million win, then step to the craps pits to win another $400,000. The Borgata paid off the bets but, after a London casino and Ivey entered litigation regarding his actions in baccarat with their establishment, they then reviewed the situation and filed suit in New Jersey themselves.

Fast forward to 2016 and the decision. Judge Hillman, while stating that Ivey and his associate didn’t “cheat” per se, they did use an unfair advantage play with some of their requests of the casino. Hillman then ruled in favor of the Borgata and ordered full payment of the $10.1 million immediately.

Now it’s been almost another three years and Ivey continues to dodge the Borgata. The question is…how much longer can Ivey outrun the “long arm of the law?”

8 Comments

  1. William P Sacco says:

    Total crock, Phil beat these morons fair and square and now they are crying foul. Change the rules in the game to favor themselves but when players do the same thing it’s called cheating. Casinos are a scam and empowered by corrupt Local, State and Federal government.

  2. Mark Widferd says:

    What a load of shit. Judge Hillman is either trying to protect the casinos or trying to protect his own ass, and probably both. Or maybe he’s just stupid. Probably all three.

    In principle (principles bring things that “judges” are supposed to be able to comprehend), the entire enterprise of gambling rests on the voluntary nature of it.

    With this ruling, Hillman— by trying to protect the casinos with a shallow and obsequious ruling— has nuked the principle that has long protected casinos from liability. Based on Hillman’s rejection of what I’ll call the Voluntary Basis of gambling’s mutual contract (the mutual contract being that you agree to pay the casino if you lose, and they agree to pay you if you win), he just created a precedent that opens the casinos up to literally unlimited liability. Way to go Hillman, by being an obsequious, weak, probably corrupt moron, you’re an unwitting genius.

    Let me explain.

    When you go to Vegas and voluntarily walk into the casino, voluntarily sit down at a 6/5 blackjack table (a rule variation which dramatically increases the house advantage), or you voluntarily elect to play Roulette at an American roulette wheel (where the 00 swings the house advantage to over 5%), and then you proceed to lose many tens of thousands of dollars because you naïvely think it’s just a coin toss, you have a 50/50 shot, surely your luck will turn around… you have no right to sue the casino.

    Yes, you were taken advantage of. Yes the house knew that their “minor” rule variations created devastating odds against you. No they did not explain to you that these “minor” changes gave them a much greater advantage. Yes they did it knowing that it would cause you to lose money. Yes they allowed you to continue betting larger and larger sums in what they knew was a vain effort to win at a game designed (by them) to make you lose. Yes it was exploitative and downright cruel. Yes they repeat this millions of times a year, to the enormous detriment of hundreds of thousands of people who are terribly injured by their predation.

    But YOU chose to go to the casino, the house rules were posted, you chose to bet, you chose to continue betting. By sitting down at the table and betting, you accepted the rules, the odds, and the consequences. No one forced you to do it, nor to continue doing it. No one prevented you from studying the odds and refusing to play a game that had rules so stacked against you. So it’s your fault. Personal responsibility, buyer beware. Furthermore, by betting, and continuing to bet, you were holding them to the terms of the mutual contract— ie, if you had started to win, you would have expected them to pay you. So you cannot suddenly state after losing that you should not have to pay them.

    THOSE are the principle that protects the casinos, which apparently are too big to fit in Hillman’s shriveled cerebellum.

    Phil Ivey flipped the script on them. He requested “minor” changes. The casinos voluntarily agreed to his requests, they accepted his wagers, they allowed him to continue betting… and they lost.

    By allowing the casinos to refuse to pay (or to sue for the return of Ivey’s winnings), Hillman is creating a precedent that utterly destroys the Voluntary Basis principle, as well as the entire Mutual Contract.

    Based on what I’ll call the Hillman Principle, I have the right to sue the casino for my losses. What they did to me by creating games with rules that were stacked against me was not “cheating” per se, but they had a responsibility not to do it anyway. And therefore I’m not responsible for my losses.

    The Hillman Principle has now become the Hillman Precedent! Smart lawyers will use it to bring down the house.

    Let the class actions begin!

    Thanks Judge Hillman, ya moron.

  3. Earl Burton says:

    Hello Mark!

    Here’s the problem with your premise. There have been plenty of gamblers who have tried to sue casinos after they lost massive amounts of money. They have used defenses very similar to what you suggest – that they were playing at a disadvantage, that the casinos ply you with drinks, etc. – and courts have found against those gamblers.

    Just look up “casino refuses to pay” on Google and you’ll find a list of times that casinos have refused to pay out jackpots that were hit, simply because of a “software glitch” or some other malfunction. Not saying that it is right, but the casinos are far better protected than many might think.

    Thanks for reading!

    EB

  4. Michael Victorious says:

    I wish I had a couple of $10,000,000 problems. Don’t pay Phil. You beat the house. Now, for that advice, pay me a cool mill.

    Thanks,

    Poker Land Shark.

  5. Anonymous says:

    how much is this costing ivey in legal fees to keep his 10 million???

  6. Earl Burton says:

    Hello!

    That’s a very good question. You would think that, at some point, Ivey would realize that he’s going to pay more in legal fees than actually giving the money back. But he may also think that he’s standing up for his reputation, so…

    Thanks for reading!

    EB

  7. Anonymous says:

    The argument(s) common sense and legal, is simple:

    a. Ivey requests a casino for x changes, none of which is against any law;
    b. The casino thinks about it, then voluntarily agrees;
    c. Based on a and b, above, Ivey agrees to play.

    MUTUAL CONSENT! no fraud was involved. (no gambler has any obligation/duty to reveal his mental processes or motives.)

  8. mike mcgomer says:

    The Casino entered into a contract where Ivey said I will play if you give me changes advantageous to me and they said we agree with those terms when the math failed they went to a judge to change their F to an A+

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