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Hollywood is full of stories about crime and the unconventional hero. This is why casino robberies are such an entertaining and reliable subject for some of the biggest blockbuster movies.
As entertaining as movies like Ocean’s Eleven and 3,000 miles to Graceland are, sometimes, the best stories are the ones that actually happened in real life.
That’s why we’re counting down the five biggest real-life casino heists that are more interesting than any trip to the movies!
Biggest Real-Life Casino Heists
Casinos are a hub of luxury and excess. As such, it makes sense that these establishments can sometimes attract interesting personalities. Whether people are there for a drink, entertainment, or a shot at winning a jackpot, casinos offer plenty of draws for people from all walks of life.
For those who aren’t a fan of all the fanfare, it’s lucky there are so many awesome slots sites in the UK and around the world that can help them win big.
For others, playing slot machines or casino tables represents too much risk for an unpredictable reward. Instead, they turn to more nefarious schemes to earn one on the house.
Here are the five biggest heists where some enterprising criminals have risked everything.
In December 2010, a lone biker robbed one of the most famous hotel-casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.
While parking his black motorcycle near the valet area around 4 a.m. on a Tuesday, the thief entered the Bellagio. He kept his motorcycle helmet on to hide his face and a pair of black gloves on his hands.
The daring criminal entered the casino and headed straight for a craps table while brandishing a gun. After telling the shocked players to back off, he proceeded to stuff as many casino chips as he could into a waist bag.
The chips in question ranged from $100 to $25,000, and he walked away with around $1.5 million. Rather than risk hurting bystanders, casino security simply let him out.
It could also have been because security knew something the thief didn’t: that the casino chips didn’t have much value outside of the casino itself.
So the “Biker Bandit”, as he was soon called, returned to the casino to gamble. It turns out the thief was Tony Carleo, a regular Las Vegas Strip gambler who had frequented the Bellagio several times.
In fact, a Bellagio poker dealer pointed investigators to Carleo. Carleo had mistakenly shared his fantasy of walking to a table and taking the chips with the dealer. When the theft took place a few days later and Carleo returned to play with new funds soon after, the dealer knew who had committed the crime.
- Soboba Casino
Like many others on this list, the ringleader of the Soboba Casino Heist in California was inspired by movies like Ocean’s Eleven. Unlike the others on this list, however, this would-be mastermind confessed to being on cocaine during the heist.
Rolando Luda Ramos was 25 years old and was an employee of the casino at the time of the robbery in August 2007. He managed to get the job done by pretending he was there to work on the surveillance cameras, as usual.
Instead of doing his job, Ramos tied up three employees before asking two unsuspecting security guards to escort him to the safe. They must have had the surprise of their lives when Ramos pointed a gun at them and other employees instead of dealing with the cameras like he should have.
He restrained the employees with the weapon – which he later claimed was a BB gun – while he stuffed $1.58 million in cash into a sports bag.
Ramos’ success didn’t last long, however, as he was arrested the day after the robbery, along with a colleague and his girlfriend.
- Ritz Casino
This is a robbery worthy of a Hollywood movie. Two men and a woman puzzled investigators when they robbed the Ritz Casino in London in March 2004.
According to Scotland Yard, the thieves used a laser scanner inside a mobile phone to outsmart roulette. The phone would have been linked to a computer, which would predict the eventual resting place of the ball.
Their scheme, based on a theory called sector targeting, saw the trio walk out of the casino with £1.3million over two nights. The Conspirators could have got away with it had they not won big on night two, to the tune of £1.2m.
As is the norm with big wins like this, the casino reviewed the security footage and called the police. When the police noticed something suspicious, the three friends were arrested.
- Circus Circus
The story of this heist got its own little Hollywood treatment when Netflix featured it in the crime documentary series Flight. It’s no wonder they brought it up, because this casino robbery really does have all the elements of a grand crime.
The robbery took place in 1993 and involved a shady romance between Heather Tallchief and her convicted murderer boyfriend, Roberto Solis. Relationship issues aside, the two pulled off one of the biggest heists in Las Vegas history.
Tallchief, who was 21 at the time, had recently started a job with an armored car company called Loomis. She claims she didn’t realize at the time that it was the same business her boyfriend – who was 27 years her senior – had tried to rob in 1969.
Just weeks after starting her job, Tallchief walked away with $3 million while her colleagues were busy filling ATMs inside Circus Circus Casino.
She met Solis and the two shipped the money to Miami before fleeing the country. But the most shocking thing about the heist? After 12 years of evading capture overseas, Tallchief returned to the United States and surrendered for her crime.
- Crown Casino
This heist is one of the most fascinating crimes we have come across. This is due not only to the scale of the crime, but also to the casino’s response.
In February 2013, one of its high rollers stole $32 million from Crown Casino in Melbourne. Curiously, instead of calling the police to investigate, the casino decided to fix the problem themselves.
Maybe it’s because the theft was an inside job. The top New Zealand player was invited to the casino to play by a VIP services manager. The employee worked to breach the security cameras and sent signals to the player throughout.
When casino security became suspicious of the winning streak that produced such a big win, they investigated. After his victory, casino security visited the fraudster in his hotel room and asked him to leave. Fortunately, the majority of the money had not yet been paid.
However, the departure of the would-be thief left the casino in turmoil. The high roller was to participate in a publicity stunt for the casino the next day. Instead, they had to find another VIP to serve the world’s most expensive cocktail.
Perhaps wishing to avoid bad public relations, the casino never reported the crime. The heist only came to light after a local newspaper ran the story a few weeks later.