Weekly Poker Roundup: October 30, 2016

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Judge Issues Split Decision in Borgata/Phil Ivey Edge Sorting Case

Phil Ivey and playing partner Cheung Yin Sun received a split ruling from US District of New Jersey Judge Noel J. Hillman in their “edge sorting” legal scuffle with the Borgata, but though it was a partial legal victory, it was, for all intents and purposes, a loss for the poker pro.

Judge Hillman granted Ivey and Sun’s motion to dismiss fraud and RICO charges, which is good for them, but he ruled in favor of the Borgata on the following three counts: Breach of Implied Contract, Breach of Contract, and Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. Thus, pending appeals, Ivey and Sun are on the hook for a $9.626 million judgment, the amount that they won playing baccarat at the Borgata.

In his conclusion, Judge Hillman said, “Ivey and Sun’s actions violated the rules of the CCA (Casino Control Act), a necessary, material, and mutual term of their contract with the Borgata, which undermined and defeated the New Jersey Legislature’s intent when it legalized gambling and enacted the CCA.

Todd Brunson Credits Mom at Poker Hall of Fame Induction

Todd Brunson and Carlos Mortensen were inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame this past week, kcking off the festivities leading up to the final table of the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event. Brunson joined his father, the legendary Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson, in the Hall, making them the only father-son duo to be so honored. Interestingly, while he would obviously admit that he owes much to his dad for who he is as a poker player, he gave the biggest nod to his mother in his acceptance speech.

In a five-minute speech in which Brunson shared a number of funny stories, he spoke from the heart while talking about his mom at the beginning of his speech. “First off, I’d like to thank my mother. My mother had a big impact on me not only as a person but also as a poker player. That may surprise some because my mother…hasn’t played a hand of poker in her life. But she taught me valuable lessons about life that transcended poker.”

“The number one thing she taught me was the value of a dollar…my mom is very frivolous, very good with money,” he added.

Pennsylvania House Passes Online Gambling Bill

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday that would legalize online gambling in the state should it make it through the rest of the legislative process. An over-arching gambling bill, HB 1887 is being counted on for its online gambling portion, which is expected to cover a $100 million hole in the state’s 2016-2017 budget.

The bill passed by a 108-71 vote and will now to move on to the Senate. The Senate, though, is on break until November 15th, at which point it is only in session for a couple of days.

Not everyone – as one would expect – was in favor of legalizing online gambling, but some were willing to hole their noses and vote for the bill because it addressed changes that were needed in brick-and-mortar casino taxes. The nine non-Philadelphia casinos are required to pay an annual “host payment” – money that goes to local counties and municipalities – of either two percent of “gross terminal revenue” from slots or $10 million, whichever is greater. Every casino pays the $10 million, as none have slots revenues high enough to reach that mark.

Mount Airy Casino filed suit over this tax, arguing that the $10 million effectively makes each casino pay a different tax rate. In late September, the state Supreme Court ruled in Mount Airy’s favor, saying that the tax was unconstitutional. Because the cities and counties rely on that money in their budgets, the Supreme Court gave the legislature 120 days to come up with a solution. That solution is part of HB 1887 and is a big reason why some who didn’t like online gambling voted for it.

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