Historical Casino Heists: The Real-Life Oceans’ Saga
By Alex J. Coyne © 2018 Great Bridge Links
Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online defines ‘heist’ as ‘to commit armed robbery on’ or ‘to steal’; casinos of the world have seen their fair share of robberies, some high-value, some not; some daring and some just really, really weird. Here’s our round-up of some historical casino heists which should show anyone with terrible ideas just why it really, really shouldn’t be thought of.
The First Robber-versary?
It’s not often that a casino gets to say that it’s their first. But that’s exactly what happened in 2005 when Gold Reef City got robbed at 4:15 in the morning. Claudia Crooney, their spokesperson at the time noted that this was the first time it had ever happened since Gold Reef City opened – not bad, considering that the mining rush-themed resort had been stuck on-top of a gold mine that had closed back in the early 70’s.
Some of you will know the famous Bellagio in Vegas from personal experience; most will recognize it from having been the casino taken in Oceans’ Eleven. Well, of course, people have tried to rob the place in real life. In 2017, a group of armed gunmen walked straight into the Bellagio – dressed in animal masks – and opened fire. We can’t say if this was inspired by cinema, but we can say that fictional George Clooney looked much better doing it than this.
The Lone Ranger
Another robbery bringing us to the Bellagio, which shows us why you might not want to make your casino the setting of a freaking heist movie. This one was reported in 2010 and involved a single gunman wearing a motorcycle helmet who walked onto the Bellagio floor in Vegas and demanded money from the croupier. He walked away with $1. 5 million in chips. Anyone else watch the movie Stander?
The Mysterious Story of Bill Brennan
We probably don’t need to mention the fact that Bill Brennan is not related to the fictional Temperance Brennan from Bones – though this might just have been the kind of robbery her father might have pulled back when he was still on that side of the law. On the 22nd of September 1992, Bill Brennan – an employee at the Stardust Hotel – simply walked out the front door with around half a million in chips. And then fell of the face off the earth.
There have been no reports since, and no subsequent traces of the man – or the money.
A High Tech Affair
Lastly, we have something a little more high-tech. In 2013, the Herald Sun reported that a “massive betting scam” had taken place at the Crown Casino and Resort in Australia: In short, it involved access to the system’s cameras – which pointed right at player’s hands – and an audio feed to a player’s ear telling him what bets would be safe. This scam apparently took a total of $32 million from the casino. Whoops.
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