Phil Ivey gets initial approval to run Medical Marijuana dispensary

Phil Ivey has gotten more media attention lately than Matthew McConaughey’s not-so-blockbuster film, ‘Interstellar’, got bad reviews. The 10x WSOP bracelet winner lost an $11 million lawsuit in London’s High Courts recently, has another $9.6 million suit pending in New Jersey, and his name has now appeared in official documents in Las Vegas, but for completely different reasons. Ivey is one of 26 applicants approved by the LV City Council to operate a medicinal marijuana dispensary.

Not surprisingly, Phil’s name has been mocked multifariously since the news broke last week. He’s been called everything from “Phil Hi-vey” to a professional poker player who is clearly “Pot Committed”. Rich Ryan of PokerNews even quipped that the US poker pro should entitle his medical marijuana dispensary, “Toker’s Wild”. All joking aside, though, the viability of Ivey’s new business venture isn’t chiseled in stone just yet.

The Las Vegas City Council received 50 applications seeking licenses to operate facilities for the sale of medical marijuana. After 16 grueling hours of deliberation, considering locations, business models and other preliminary qualifications, 26 of them of them were approved by the council, but that’s twice the number the state is willing to sanction.

Each of the approved applicants will now have to submit their plea to the State Health Department. If their requests get the stamp of approval on that level, the documents will then be returned to the LV City Council for a final suitability review. Nevada is expected to appraise the submissions next week, but no date has been scheduled for the final hearing in Las Vegas.

Just last month, Phil Ivey appeared in court to contest the non-payment of £7.7 ($11 million USD) of his gambling winnings by Crockfords Casino. Ivey claimed that he had won the exorbitant amount of money on the casino’s punto banco tables fair and square, but Crockfords officials disagreed. They argued that Ivey’s use of a baccarat strategy known as ‘edge sorting’ was cheating, and therefore they did not owe him any money outside of his original bets, which amounted to £1 million and had already been wired to his bank account.

Phil admitted that he used edge sorting, but his contention that it was “a legitimate strategy”, not cheating, was refuted by the courts. Thus he is not entitled to the millions of dollars in casino winnings.

Ivey has a similar lawsuit pending in Atlantic City, New Jersey, but this time around, it was the casino that filed the case. Phil Ivey won $9.6 million at the Borgata Casino playing baccarat, which they initially paid him, but the company is now looking to recoup those losses via a lawsuit filed in April that claims Ivey used the same duplicitous means of edge sorting. After losing his case in London, a comparable result is expected to arise in Atlantic City when the hearing concludes.

Projected to be down about $20 million by the time it’s all said and done, Phil Ivey’s new prospects could easily make up for the impending deficits. The sale of legal marijuana in the US was projected to generate $1.5 billion in 2013, escalating to $6 billion within five years.

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