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A federal law enforcement investigation into Las Vegas casino employees has reportedly led to the ouster of Resorts World COO and President Scott Sibella.
The company noted that he’d been fired for “failing to disclose certain information required under company policies” after details involving his previous work as an MGM Resorts executive have come into question.
The Nevada Current was one of the first to report on a federal investigation by the IRS and Homeland Security involving Las Vegas hotels, including Resorts World. Federal agents are looking into whether employees at MGM Grand used company assets to pay off gambling debts to an illegal sports betting enterprise run by bookie Wayne Nix, who pled guilty in 2022.
“Federal authorities from the U.S. Central District Court of California subpoenaed communications between Resorts World employees and customers, as well as player data, according to a ‘privileged and confidential’ memo from the hotel’s general counsel Gerald Gardner,” the Nevada Current reported.
“Last year, the Current reported that gambler R.J. Cipriani was notifying law enforcement of individuals he believed were undesirable and gambling at Resorts World with Sibella’s knowledge, including convicted investment fraudster Robert Alexander, an associate of Las Vegas attorney and Resorts World vendor David Chesnoff. Chesnoff was a shareholder in the company Alexander used to defraud investors.”
Sibella has previously held positions at the Golden Nugget, Tropicana, Treasure Island, and Mirage before becoming President of MGM Grand in 2017 and 2018. He left for the Resorts position in 2019 and was at the helm to finish the $4.3 billion property’s construction through it’s opening in June of 2021.
The feds are working to find a link between casino executives, including Sibella, and the sports betting operation, according to reports.
“Investigators are trying to establish whether employees at the Las Vegas casinos acted as agents for Nix’s betting network by recruiting gamblers and taking a cut of their losses,” iGaming Business reports. “Agents are also investigating whether they used casino resources to pay gambling debts to Nix.”
The Genting Group has replaced Sibella with Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Peter LaVoie.
“Peter’s extensive experience and expertise make him the right person to lead Resorts World Las Vegas through this transition,” a spokesperson said.
Resorts World sits on the former home of the Stardust Casino, which was demolished by Boyd Gaming in 2007. The lot was earmarked for the Echelon Place projects, but was ultimately sold to Malaysian-based Genting Group.
The casino sits on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip and has struggled since opening, falling short of original revenue projections. The property has made progress with convention visitors, however, and business is expected to be bolstered when the nearby Fontainebleu Resort opens in December.
New York Casino Licenses Could Be Affected
Beyond the investigation itself, the New York Post is reporting that MGM and Genting could face blowback in their bids for a casino license in the New York City area.
The newspaper described the two companies as previously being “shoo-ins” for licenses at the Empire City Casino in Yonkers and Resorts World Casino in Queens. However, these events may now bring some reservations from gaming regulators.
“Ethics is going to be a huge deal in deciding who gets the licenses,” a gaming commission source told the New York Post. “The ethics and the relationships with the communities where they are putting their casinos is where this is going to be fought and won.”
Speaking of ethics, Resorts World was criticized in August for letting one of their gamblers openly mock an employee of rival Wynn Resorts, according to a report from Vital Vegas.
An Australian high roller named Ben Ralph had demanded to be let in early to Wynn’s nightclub before it opened, and ended up getting himself thrown off the property when he was told no by a manager named Niko. The gambler then crossed the street to Resorts World, where he was allowed to project the words “Ben’s House” on the casino façade, followed by, “Food Stamps For Niko.”
Wynn had previously sued Resorts World for copying their style, stating that their building facade plans were too similar to their own building.