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15 Biggest & Most Famous Casino Heists That Shocked The World!

Stories Biggest & Most Famous Casino Heists
Feb 28, 2022 03:02Andrej Trajkovski

Almost all people who go to casinos are there to have some fun, maybe win something, and go back to their homes. In addition, some of them may have a drink or two in the lobby, and that’s it. There are exceptions, though. For instance, some visitors are there planning casino heists. Of course, not all of them go on with their plans, but casino robberies are real, we assure you.

To be honest, some of the biggest heists ever have happened decades ago, and that’s a good thing. The modern, sophisticated technology makes it much more difficult for those pulling heists to succeed. But, even today, some daring criminals use their creativity and innovativeness to get involved in such activities.

The following list includes the 15 biggest and most famous heists. They have affected some of the most notable gambling facilities in the world. In addition, we have lesser-known casinos, but the amounts involved in the heists make them suitable for the list. Also, some of these robberies were committed by seasoned “professionals” part of crime syndicates. In contrast, others were first-time robbers doing this on their own. Let’s begin!

1. Ritz Club Casino – London, UK

Ritz Casino London

To be honest, this is not precisely an armed robbery, but it deserves to be on our list of famous heists. It all happened in 2004 when three experienced crooks teamed up and decided to scam the Ritz Casino in London, UK. Instead of guns or other weapons, they’ve used lasers. No, they didn’t use these lasers to stun the croupiers or security. They’ve used them to estimate the approximate speed of the live roulette wheel. In this way, they could determine the following number on the wheel.

This sophisticated activity let them get 1.6 million dollars. The casino discovered the scheme but couldn’t prove that in court.

2.  Bellagio Casino – Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Of course, some of the biggest heists ever were conducted in the so-called Capital City of Gambling – Las Vegas. This time we have another trio of experienced and cheeky criminals – Oscar Sanchez, Luis Suarez, and Jose Vigoa. Keep in mind that Vigoa is currently serving 4 life sentences without parole. He was the gang leader that robbed multiple casinos in this area.

In this particular heist in Bellagio Casino in 2000, his gang managed to take more than $160,000. They may have gotten away from this, but a camera caught Jose without his mask, helping the authorities arrest him and his crew members. Another exciting thing is that one of the Ocean’s Eleven movies was inspired by this event.

3.  Bellagio Casino – Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

It looks like the Bellagio Hotel and Casino is one of the favorite targets of robbers. So, ten years after the Bellagio incident described above, Anthony Carleo robbed the place. What’s different is that the robbery made him a small fortune – he got 1.5 million dollars in casino chips. Without any doubt, this is one of the biggest heists in the world.

However, Carleo didn’t have an opportunity to enjoy the spoils. He used the Internet to sell the chips and get cash but offered them to the wrong guy. The potential buyer was an undercover cop, and he was arrested. Anthony got a 9 to 27 years sentence, which included a conviction for a prior heist at the Suncoast Casino. So, Carleo was not satisfied with the first robbery, so he committed another one. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that he was known as the Biker Bandit because he wore a motorcycle helmet during these heists.

4. Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino – Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Not one, not three, but two masked men were part of this criminal act at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in 2005. Truth be told, there was nothing spectacular about it, meaning there was no elaborate plan. They simply got inside when the place was not busy, fired a few shots in the air, approached the cashier, and got the money.

Interestingly, the public never got information about the amount of stolen money. Some say that this was one of the biggest casino robberies ever, but we will never know. Also, there’s no information on whether the criminals were caught or not.

5. Stardust Casino – Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

As action movies have taught us, it often takes the cooperation of an inside man to pull off a successful heist. Maybe some of these movies were inspired by the case of Bill Brennan, an ordinary guy who decided to become a lawbreaker. In 1992, he robbed the Stardust Casino, where he had worked for several years.

Bill often came to work with a bag, and when he left the casino with the bag, no one suspected that he had put over half a million dollars in it (both banknotes and chips). This is one of the famous heists in which the leading actor was never caught. You can still find him on the FBI’s most-wanted list, although many believe he was killed.

6. Crown Casino – Perth, Australia

Crown Casino Perth

Australia has its spot on the list of biggest casino heists. In fact, this is one of the biggest casino heists of all time. This was not a classic robbery but a security guard and a player scheme. The security guard was actually watching the cameras and helping the player at the high-rolling tables. Based on his information, the gambler made over $30 million in a short period of time.

However, when so much money is involved and a gambler is incredibly lucky, the staff double checks the game. So, they soon realized that this was a scam and got the money back. In the end, no one was punished legally, but there’s a chance that someone got an old-school beating.

7. Circus Circus – Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Let’s go back to Sin City or the Capital City of Gambling or simply – Vegas. Heather Tallchief worked as a driver of an armored car, transferring money for the Circus Circus casino. In 1993, she decided to go to a different destination once the cash was loaded. In other words, Heather escaped with money worth 2.5 million dollars.

She was scared that she would be discovered, so Heather fled to Europe, where she lived for more than ten years. However, she finally got homesick and turned herself to the US authorities. According to Tallchief, she couldn’t live like that anymore. Additionally, Tallchief that her boyfriend (still missing) and accomplice practically forced her to commit this criminal act.

8. Soboba Casino – Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

We’ve already talked about casino robberies that were later used for creating exciting action movies. But, it looks like this is not a one-way road, and it works the other way around. In 2007, after watching Ocean’s 11 several times, Ronaldo Luda Ramos and his accomplice stole 1.5 million dollars from Soboba Casino.

Ramos worked at the casino and took care of the security systems and cameras. This certainly gave him an advantage. Ronaldo pepper-sprayed, tied up three of his colleagues, and put the money in a bag before exiting the facility. His accomplice was just a getaway driver. His luck didn’t last for more than a few days when the police found his location and arrested him.

9. Caesars Palace – Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

The iconic casino in Las Vegas was robbed a few times. Still, the Caesars Palace 1997 robbery was probably the biggest one. We say “probably” because no one knows how much money exactly did the casino lose that day. The robbery was carried out by a lone masked gunman. He actually wore a gas mask and made the security guards at the premises hand him the money.

According to some sources, Caesars Palace lost a low six-figure amount during this criminal act. Once again, the offender chose a time of the day when there were not many people in the casino (around 9 am). We should also mention that one of the guards suffered minor injuries.

10. Stardust Casino – Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Now here’s another example of a casino heist with an exciting plan. Royal Hopper worked as a security crew member at the Stardust Casino in 1991. That year, he made a plan to stage a robbery with his son. The other security guard was unaware, but the theft went well, and the Hoppers got 150,000 dollars.

Obviously, this sum was not enough, so Royal Hopper included his second son for another robbery. Instead of pretending to be attacked, Royal and his sons disguised themselves and struck the truck driver. In this case, they were more successful because they got over one million dollars. The best part is that we are talking about cash, not casino chips. However, after several weeks, the trio was caught, and the mastermind got 17 years.

11. Park Lane Club – London, UK

We can’t say that this was one of the biggest casino heists we’ve read about. Still, it’s definitely among the most peculiar. What makes it different is that the masked offender used a toy gun instead of a real weapon, which the security guards overlooked.

The unnamed masked criminal wore a boiler suit and a realistic-looking handgun. He was really convincing, so the employees gave him the money right away. The Park Lane Club lost around 47,000 dollars that day in 2017. We still don’t know who this guy is, and the only thing that police know is that he is a little bit tall and white.

12. Several casinos on several continents

Apparently, if the scheme is good, you can rob several casinos on several continents before someone figures out what’s going on. This happened to Bill Kaplan and his crew consisting of MIT students. If you’ve watched Kevin Spacey’s 21, you will know what this crime was all about because the movie is based on this true story.

The Harvard graduate has teamed up with a group of MIT students and taught them everything they need to know about card counting. As you probably know, count counting is illegal in most casinos. Using this loop, this crew managed to get over 22 million dollars between 1979 and 2000. They’ve traveled around the planet, ripping off casinos. The best part is that no one suffered any legal consequences. However, they were banned from almost every known gambling facility globally.

13. Several casinos in London, UK

It was not the first time criminals used high-tech for casino heists, but these robberies in the UK in 2000 were unique. The three young men obsessed with modern technology decided to use their knowledge and passion to rob gambling facilities in London.

Many casinos were unaware that there are small earpieces, wireless transmitters, and mini-cameras that ordinary players can use for scams. Once they entered the casinos equipped like that, it was easy to predict the outcome of many games. The team was organized well. One of them played while the others analyzed the records and provided tips from outside. They have acquired around 270,000 dollars in less than 12 months by doing this. As silently as they came, the trio silently disappeared, never to be found.

14. Treasure Island Casino – Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

They say that the criminals always return to the scene of the crime. We are not sure about this, but the one that robbed Treasure Island Casino came back three times. Reginald Johnson got 33,000 dollars before he got caught.

This was a classic casino heist in which he used a mask and a gun. The first time, everything went smoothly, but he fired his handgun close to the guards the second time. Finally, the business invested more money in security. Reginald was caught the third time despite wounding a security guard with his weapon. Johnson is now serving 130 years for these robberies and a few others, and he was also convicted for an attempt to murder.

15. Emperors Palace Casino Hotel – Johannesburg, South Africa

South Africa has several casinos, one of them situated in the Emperors Palace Hotel. One of the biggest heists in the world was conducted in this casino in 2013. It’s not about the stolen money, but the number of criminals involved in it. Namely, there were 15 people in this gang, but the good news is that they didn’t steal a dime.

Apparently, when you are part of a big group like this, the police will eventually find you. Once they got into the casino, the police trapped them inside. Three people were injured, including a child and two of the bandits.

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Andrej Trajkovski
Lady Liberty
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As a gambling editor, Andrej aims to provide readers with everything new from the world of gambling. Since he is our columnist, his topics are often a bit more extensive and fun. Whether it’s analysis on the reunification of Ireland, Spotify gambling playlists, or history posts, he gets the job done.
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