Ivey v Genting Casinos – A New Test For ‘dishonesty’

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Ruling Re-defines Dishonesty



In this final instalment we conclude our look at ‘dishonesty’. See our previous weeks instalments on Ruling Re-defines Dishonesty Points to Prove & Playing Cards “dishonestly”.

You can see now, I suspect, that if you watch the backs of the cards when they are dealt on the table, before any player looks at the card fronts that you can identify the high stakes cards as ones which the half diamond pattern is on the opposite side of the card back to the low stakes cards.

This was crucial in ‘guessing’ the winning cards. In addition, Cheung asked the dealer to shuffle the cards using a machine rather than passing them to the players to shuffle, again, no allegation that the players interfered with the card!

Security eventually realised what Ivey and Cheung had done which helped them to identify winning and losing hands and decided to freeze their £7.7m winnings.


The pair eventually went to the Supreme Court in 2017 in order to get a decision on whether or not their actions were ‘cheating’. When the Judge looked at the issue of ‘dishonesty’ he said that in this case it was clear that Ivey and Cheung had made the requests to the Casino to do certain acts and by doing so they said they had done nothing ‘dishonest’.

As we mentioned earlier, to prove dishonesty we must show that Ivey and Cheung had known they were acting dishonestly. They clearly did not think so.

The first check was to ask ‘did the average person believe they were dishonest?’  The Judge found the first part but then changed current thinking on dishonesty and threw out the second test as unnecessary. It is now sufficient to ask the ordinary person in the street if they thought it would be dishonest.


A fascinating story and one that is very pertinent to an investigator investigating ‘dishonesty’ offences.


As for me, I’m going to buy some playing cards and set up a game with a few friends!


If you need any more information or would be interested in one of our courses then please do not hesitate to contact us at the Sancus Office.





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Ivey v Genting Casinos – Playing Cards “dishonestly”

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Ruling Re-defines Dishonesty


Last weeks post looked at the importance of establishing the Points to Prove (P2P) and we introduced dishonesty as one of the P2P in the definition of theft.

Dishonesty in this context is taken to mean to prove someone’s actions were dishonest; you first had to show that their action would be deemed dishonest by the standard of the ordinary person. Then, you had to show that they also understood that their actions were dishonest.


Let us look at the Case of Phil Ivey whose outcome impacted on the above definition.

To give an overview of the story we first need to visit a colleague of Ivey, Cheung Yin Sun. Cheung is 40 years old, was brought up in China and has a high stakes gambling habit funded by her rich businessman father. Ten years ago, Cheung and a few friends visited MGM Casino in Las Vegas where her father had deposited $500,000 for her to use. During her stay a friend lost all of her money and asked if she could borrow $100,000. MGM gave her a loan that was underwritten by the supposedly wealthy Cheung. Unfortunately the loan was not repaid and MGM held Cheung liable. When she returned to the USA, 18 months later, Cheung was promptly arrested and imprisoned for 4 weeks. She took this “quite badly” and vowed revenge by taking as much money from MGM Casinos worldwide as she possibly could.


How did she do it? Cheung realised that in most Casinos the cards have a pattern printed on the reverse e.g. small diamonds. As the cards are manufactured and cut on a machine the pattern is often not symmetrical with, say, the pattern on the left only half a diamond and the pattern on the right was a full diamond; this was the key to her quest! Using this she was able to identify different cards which she used to her advantage and she toured the Casinos of the East making quite a bundle, eventually meeting up with Ivey.


In the gambling world, someone who gambles upwards of £500,000 per visit is known as a High Roller and the casino goes out of its way to keep these customers betting; free drinks, food and suites are the norm.  Ivey was no stranger to betting £2m, £3m or even £5m per visit and he is one of only 1500 people worldwide who regularly bet in these amounts. Cheung explained her findings to Ivey and so the plan developed.


In 2012 Ivey and Cheung enter an exclusive London Casino called Crockfords.  Ivey was immediately recognised and the Casino started to grant his wishes for his visit including a private room to play Baccarat ‘Macau Style’. Baccarat is a simple card game which has no skill involved, it is a card equivalent of a toss of a coin with the chances of winning 50:50 and Macau style means the players do not touch the cards so they cannot be then judged as manipulating the cards.




During the first visit, Ivey lost a large amount of money then left, informing the casino he would return the next day. Both Cheung and Ivey returned the next day and they started to win ‘big time!’ Overall they had amassed winnings of £7.7 million but the casino were alerted and had started to monitor the situation via CCTV.  Nothing untoward was discovered but the Casino intervened and told Ivey they were going to change the pack they were playing with. Ivey and Cheung left leaving security to investigate their secret.


In addition to the circumstances above the investigation revealed Cheung had asked for a Mandarin speaker to deal the cards and also she had made the unusual request that if they won a hand then the high stakes cards be turned around at 180 degrees.  Also, they had requested that instead of changing packs regularly they would use the same pack over the two days.


So was this dishonest in this case? What had they done that was actually dishonest? Was it possible to prove the two P2P of dishonesty?


Whether you investigate disciplinaries, misconduct or as in this case fraud, whether you are an HR Professional, an investigator or a line manager if you need to investigate you will need to interview…………..we can give you the skills.


We’ll conclude the investigation next week.



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Ivey v Genting Casinos – Points to Prove



Ruling Re-defines Dishonesty



Let me introduce myself, I’m Graham Jones, a retired detective and lead Investigative Skills Trainer for Sancus Solutions. Over the next three weeks I want to discuss the importance of establishing the ‘Points to Prove’ of an offence during an Investigative Interview and show how these are open to interpretation by the courts.

You will be aware, especially if you have been on one of our Investigation Courses, that if you are investigating an incident, whether it is a crime or otherwise, then you should firstly identify the relevant ‘Points to Prove’ (P2P). P2P are the parts of the rules or the law which defines the incident in question. It is the ‘definition’ of the incident.

Theft would be something like

  • Dishonestly
  • Appropriates
  • Property
  • Belonging to Another
  • Intending to Deprive the other of it.

Each part needs to be investigated. If the investigators can show or ‘prove’ that the subject/perpetrator has done each of the points then it shows that the offence/incident has been committed by the subject.

This is the same if your HR policy shows that an

  • Employee
  • has Attended Work
  • under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
  • and being Unfit to Complete Their Work
  • to a Satisfactory Standard.

You break down the investigation into its component parts and put your findings forward for judgement. This is the same for ANY incident.




A recent Case which you may find of interest is one of a professional gambler, Phil Ivey, who appeared at the Supreme Court in the UK in November 2017. It hinges on the definition of ‘dishonest’.

Until October 2017 the leading case on the meaning of dishonesty in English criminal law was R v Ghosh [1982] EWCA Crim 2. In that case the supreme court determined a two stage process to show that someone’s actions were dishonest.

You first had to show that their action would be deemed dishonest by the standard of the ordinary person.

Then, show that they also understood that their actions were dishonest. Not always the simplest part of the test.

So next week we’ll expand on this case study and see how the definition has changed.

Best Graham