Borgata chase Phil Ivey’s $¼ million casino comps
Details of Phil Ivey’s long-running edge-sorting lawsuits were in the news again this week, the Borgata claiming his WSOP winnings, but little has been made of the staggering $249,199.83 Ivey and his accomplice received in ‘comps’ from the casino…
Dwarfed by Ivey’s $10million Punto Banco winnings in the Atlantic City casino, the $¼ million in comps – complimentary rewards for high-volume/high-stakes gamblers – are still a huge sum of money.
Private flights, hotel rooms, meals and drinks were all part of the high-roller package Phil Ivey and Cheng Yin ‘Kelly’ Sun received on their four visits to the Borgata in 2012.
A private playing room for their baccarat visit, as well as very specific demands as to what dealer and which cards were used also constituted part of the duo’s ‘edge-sorting plans.
Such things don’t come cheap, and the Borgata this week are trying once again to have the ‘comps’ refunded as part of their lawsuit – the expensive extras ‘disallowed’ in the earlier judgement against Phil Ivey.
“Without their inclusion in the parties’ agreement, Ivey and Sun would have needed to pay for the goods and services they enjoyed,” says Borgata’s latest court filing.
They added: ‘Thus to provide full restitution to Borgata, Ivey and Sun must also return the value of the comps. The District Court erred in not including that amount in its damages award. Ivey and Sun advance no response to this argument.’
What Are “Casino Comps” that Phil Ivey Recieved?
The level of comps vary according to the casino and the gambler, of course, low-level players perhaps receiving just free drinks or basic reward points, while big spenders can expect executive suites, private flights, expensive meals and shows, chauffeured travel while in the city, etc.
Casinos don’t do this for fun, naturally, the original ruling against the Borgata explaining the pros for the ‘house’ quite clearly.
“Borgata’s ‘comps’ to Ivey and Sun were provided for many reasons, including to entice a celebrity gambler to its casino to attract more patrons, and to endeavor to win presumably large sums from a high roller.”
For some, casino comps are a way of life – accruing rewards that make the wins and losses along the way almost incidental.
Other Famous Cases
One famous comps gambler, Jean Scott, author of the book ‘The Frugal Gambler’ recalls: ‘long casino visits with luxury hotel suites, over-the-top gourmet meals, and top entertainment parties and shows, free cruises and flights to exotic lands and invitations for big-reward tournaments’.
A decade ago, Canadian Paul Isaacs lost more than $1.2million at slots, baccarat and the roulette table.
However, over the two-year losing spree, the casino rewarded him with ‘Rolex and TAG Heuer wristwatches, theater tickets and limousine rides’. On top of that, he received a two-and-a-half month complimentary stay, including meals, at the Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, Ontario after his home burnt down in a fire.
More on the Phil Ivey vs. Borgata Case
With Ivey betting $150k per hand at the Punto Banco tables, depositing $1 million before each session, the poker legend was certainly a highroller and would have been afforded every comp imaginable.
The Borgata, however, are on something of a roll, and there is no guarantee that Phil Ivey won’t finally have to pay back more than the $10million judgement against him.
In the highroller world of gambling, even Ivey’s $10 million ‘wins’ at the Borgata, and the same year at London’s Crockfords Casino, pale into insignificance.
Aussie entrepreneur Kerry Packer once won, and later lost, as much as $35 million at the tables – in single visits. According to Michael Kaplan, Packer’s demands of the casino were not as outrageous as some.
‘”He wanted nice rooms for himself and his entourage (which often included renowned golf coach Butch Harmon, actor Anthony Perkins and a clutch of polo players and cricketers), an on-call masseuse and, most critical of all, monstrously high limits and a guarantee that a vacant table would be waiting for him to gamble at.”
The Harry Karakas Story
Packer’s son, James, was the beneficiary of perhaps the biggest losing gambler ever, real estate tycoon Harry Kakavas.
As boss of the Crowne Casino in Melbourne, James Packer reportedly offered Kakavas ‘free luxury accommodation, free food and drink, free limo travel and a private jet to ferry him from his home on the Gold Coast.
Paul Barry also wrote in his 2010 article on the gambling disaster that Kakavas flew ‘to the Philippines and back for a holiday’ while the Crown Melbourne ‘also gave him up to $50,000 in cash as ‘lucky money’, delivered in a cardboard box as he boarded the plane.
Kakavas eventually burned through $1.5billion of his own, and others, money, eventually suing the Crown for allowing him to play – and losing the case.
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