Published: 26 October 2017 by Nick Arron
“The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal from a professional gambler who claimed he was entitled to the £7.7 million winnings from a game of Punto Banco played in 2012 at Crockfords Club in Mayfair.
The gambler admitted to employing a technique known as ‘edge-sorting’, whereby the player spots minute physical differences in the backs of the playing cards. In this case, the gambler then persuaded the croupier to use the same pack of cards and for the cards that were deemed ‘lucky’ to be rotated. By doing this, the gambler was able to greatly improve his chances of winning.
The case has wide reaching significance because it brings into question the 35 year old legal test for dishonesty which was introduced by R v Ghosh  QB 1053.
Arguments put forward by the gambler were that cheating necessarily involves dishonesty, and in addition, he did not consider the use of edge sorting as cheating. He argued that the second stage of the Ghosh test had not been met. The tests second stage requires a jury to determine whether “the defendant must have realised that ordinary honest people…” would regard his behaviour as dishonest.
The Supreme Court stated that “There is no reason why the law should excuse those who make a mistake about what contemporary standards of honesty are… The law does not, in principle, excuse those whose standards are criminal by the benchmarks set by society, nor ought it to do so.”
The Judgement resolved that in taking steps to fix the deck of cards, in a game that depends on the random delivery of these cards, is “…inevitably cheating.””
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