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Poker standout Ivey sues London casino over nonpayment of gambling winnings

9 May 2013

Poker champion Phil Ivey has decided he’s waited long enough to collect his winnings from a hot game of Punto Banco last summer in London.

A United Kingdom-based law firm said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday it filed a writ with the High Court in London seeking some $12.1 million Ivey says he won at Crockfords Club casino last August.

Crockfords is owned by Genting Group of Malaysia, the company that announced plans in April to build the $2 billion to $7 billion Resorts World Las Vegas on the Strip location that currently houses the unfinished Echelon project.

Last summer, Ivey played Punto Banco, a variation of baccarat, for seven hours over a two-night period at Crockfords, winning the equivalent of almost $12 million.

However, Crockfords informed authorities it withheld Ivey's payout. Suspicions intensified when it was discovered that a female companion with Ivey had a suspended membership with another Mayfair casino.

According to London press reports, staff members, including a female croupier, were interviewed over fears of collusion. It was unclear what, if anything, Ivey was accused of doing.

Ivey, 36, who earned his ninth World Series of Poker individual event championship bracelet in Australia in April at the tournament’s Asia Pacific competition, normally shuns contacts with the media.

But through his lawyers, he released a lengthy statement critical of Crockfords.

“I am deeply saddened that Crockfords has left me no alternative but to proceed with legal action, following its decision to withhold my winnings,” Ivey said. “I have much respect for Genting, which has made this a very difficult decision for me. Over the years I have won and lost substantial sums at Crockfords and I have always honored my commitments. At the time, I was given a receipt for my winnings but Crockfords subsequently withheld payment. I, therefore, feel I have no alternative but to take legal action.”

Ivey’s attorney, Matthew Dowd of Archerfield Partners, said the poker player was “forced to issue court proceedings” to secure his winnings.