UKSC 67
Ivey (Appellant) v Genting Casinos (UK) Ltd t/a Crockfords (Respondent)
On appeal from the Court of Appeal Civil Division (England and Wales)
The issue in this case is whether an implied term not to cheat in a gambling contract is only breached where there is dishonesty.
The appellant is a professional gambler. On 20 and 21 August he won £7.7m playing a version of Baccarat known as Punto Banco at a casino owned by the respondent, Crockfords Club in Curzon Street, Mayfair. Punto Banco is a game of chance. In order to win, the appellant employed a technique known as edge-sorting, which involves identifying small differences in the pattern on the reverse of playing cards and exploiting that information to increase the player’s chances of winning. He did not personally touch any cards, but persuaded the croupier to rotate the most valuable cards by intimating that he was superstitious. The respondent refused to pay the appellant his winnings, maintaining that by engaging in edge-sorting he had cheated. The appellant brought a claim to recover his winnings.
The Supreme Court unanimously dismisses the appeal. Mr Ivey’s actions were positive steps to fix the deck and therefore constituted cheating. The test of dishonesty is that used in civil actions. There is no requirement that the defendant must appreciate that what he has done is, by those standards, dishonest.