Court Approves Docketing Borgata’s $10.16M Judgment v Phil Ivey into Nevada

Borgata Hotel Casino Spa [Pic: PilotBob]

30-second summary

  • US Circuit judge approves motion as filed in October 2018
  • Motion filed after Borgata investigated, found no Ivey assets in New Jersey
  • Ruling finalizes mandatory legal procedure allowing Borgata to attempt to seize Ivey’s Nevada assets
  • Ivey deposition in case had been scheduled for January 31

The parent company of New Jersey’s Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa, Marina District Development Corp. LLC, has received formal approval from a US District Court judge to docket its US $10.16m (£7.79m) judgment against Phil Ivey into the State of Nevada. This latest development in the years-long legal battle between the giant Atlantic City casino and the internationally famous Ivey, a pro poker player and gambler, is a mandatory legal step that allows the Borgata to identify and attempt to place liens against any assets belonging to Ivey in Nevada, his official state of residence.

Recent flurry of legal activity

The ruling allowing the Borgata to file the eight-figure judgment in Nevada to pursue Ivey’s assets there follows a handful of developments in the case involving the complex “edge sorting” scheme at the Borgata’s high-stakes mini-baccarat tables. A week ago, attorneys for the two sides engaged in a status conference call, also including Ivey’s scheduled appearance at a deposition hearing regarding his assets.

The $10.16 million is not only payable to the Borgata at this time, but it is also required as a supersedeas (appellate) bond in an appeal filed by Ivey, in a separate court, after the judgment was finalized last fall.

In January, US District Judge Noel L. Hillman signed the ruling authorizing the docketing of the judgment into Nevada, where Ivey is known to have business and real-estate interests. Judge Hillman, who presided over the case brought by the Borgata against Ivey and his partner in the edge-sorting scheme, “Kelly” Cheng Yin Sun, signed a draft motion filed by the Borgata one day earlier without change.

Ivey’s counsel in the case, attorney Louis M. Barbone of Camden, NJ, did not contest the filing of the motion to docket the case in Nevada. The Borgata’s counsel, Jeremy M. Clausner, filed the draft ruling for Judge Hillman’s signing after being advised to by US Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio, who oversaw the status hearing on Judge Hillman’s behalf.

Deposition details, appeal status unclear

It is uncertain whether the agreed-upon deposition of Ivey scheduled for January 31 occurred as scheduled because such depositions can take days to be transcribed and, once entered into the court’s document system, are often under seal. Also, Ivey’s side has missed previous court deadlines and has been accused by the Borgata’s legal counsel of intentionally stalling in the long-running matter in the hope of delaying or otherwise derailing the judgment’s effective imposition. The case was filed in 2012 and was argued for over six years until the December 2016 judgment was finalized last fall.

In the separate appellate case, filed in the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the current status remains uncertain. Ivey’s counsel filed the appeal in October 2018 and attempted to move the case forward without filing the $10.16 million supersedeas bond, equivalent to the pending judgment. The Borgata quickly assailed Ivey’s claim of “exceptional circumstances” and those claims were dismissed, yet Ivey’s side has still failed to post the bond. That led to the latest status hearing, the planned deposition, and the docketing of the case into Nevada.

The last development in the appellate case filed by Ivey dates back to November 2018 and remains under court-ordered seal, yet there is no indication that the appeal will move forward until the issue of Ivey’s assets is resolved.

Floating assets alleged

The Borgata continues its search for assets owned by Ivey as it seeks ways to collect the eight-digit judgment. The casino’s first attempts took place in New Jersey, where the case against Ivey and Sun was filed, but a search there uncovered only a single, emptied bank account. Ivey was born in California, but spent most of his childhood and young-adult years in New Jersey, becoming a sought-after “whale” gambler at the state’s casinos. Later, Ivey moved to Las Vegas, his official US residence.

Ivey also has assets outside the US, which will likely prove more difficult for the Borgata to seize. The Borgata’s countering claims against Ivey’s appellate claims of exceptional circumstances reference Ivey’s social-media postings regarding his luxury seaside villa in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The villa in one of Mexico’s priciest locales is likely worth millions and may be far from the only such asset Ivey owns. Regarding the edge-sorting scheme, which Ivey and Sub perpetrated in four multi-day visits to the Borgata between 2010 and 2012, Ivey’s bankroll for the mini-baccarat wagering was wired in from a Mexican bank account.

Ivey was also embroiled in a similar dispute with London’s Crockfords Casino over a similar edge-sorting scheme. The public exposure of the battle between Ivey and Sun over about $12m (£9.2m) in winnings that Crockfords refused to pay that led to the abrupt end of Ivey’s and Sun’s fourth and final session, in 2012, at the Borgata.