Jackpots And Jail Time: The Greatest Casino Heists Of The 21st Century

For most of us, a casino is a place of entertainment, thrills, and a chance to win big. However, for others, it can pose a very different opportunity altogether. In the past, before the days of advanced technology, casinos were locations that carried more money than a bank, scattered across roulette tables and in the bellies of slot machines. It’s no wonder, therefore, that they’ve seen some of the most daring heists committed inside their ornate halls. Here are just a few of the best.


Mr. Casino

Richard Taylor’s crimes were unique because he chose to avoid the ‘big score’ and instead, opted to take a longer-term approach to theft from the casino. Taylor was so successful, in fact, that he ended up earning the moniker ‘Mr. Casino’. His targets of choice were the high-roller craps players. Richard masterminded a complex network of complicit dealers and players who allowed the smaller rule breaches to happen, apparently unnoticed to them. Richard’s system totaled $700,000 worth of losses from only two casinos.  After a while, though, those losses became too large to hide and Taylor was apprehended and sentenced to several decades in prison.

Source: Unsplash


The Stardust Heist

It’s 1992 and Bill Brennan was another cashier working at The Stardust Casino. Like Taylor, he was a criminality that thrived on being unremarkable – at least, to his superiors – because Brennan was planning something major and it would take nerves of steel to carry out his plan. In September, Brennan concealed $500,000 of the Stardust casino’s money in his backpack, before simply walking out during his lunch break. It was a single hit, sure, but with no fanfare, dramatics, and complete reliance on the crime only being exposed when it would, hopefully for Brennan, be too late. And it worked. Brennan has never been captured and the robbery remains an open case to this day.

Source: Unsplash


The Biker Bandit 

Some casino heists aren’t committed by those on the inside. In those cases, it’s not as easy as slipping out unseen during a lunch hour. In December 2010, 29-year-old Anthony Carleo pulled up to the famous Bellagio casino entrance on a motorcycle, walked to a craps table, pulled a gun, and demanded chips. He was able to collect an astonishing $1.5 million dollars’ worth of chips before fleeing on his trusty bike. It was Carleo’s actions following the heist that led to his downfall.

Carleo attempted to sell off his takings online – with the tongue-in-cheek email address cranberrykid25 – a reference to highest denomination chips he stole, worth $25,000 and a distinctive dark red color. He would sign off these posts with the calling card, “the biker bandit”. It was seven weeks later when the law caught up to Carleo – he was arrested while attempting to sell chips to undercover officers inside another casino.

As casinos have moved to offer digital services too, the experience they can offer to users is easily accessed and can be just as immersive as the physical locations. The jackpots are just as big and the gameplay just as enjoyable, which might explain the popularity of mobile gambling games in recent years as convenience remains the focal point. For newcomers, the larger, best-known platforms offer more about bingo jackpots and other niche games alongside more established casino games for those unfamiliar with them or playing for the first time.

Maybe a final added benefit of the online gambling experience might be the decreased chance of running into the biker bandit or a disgruntled employee on their lunch-break – or is that all part of the fun?

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