Hollywood seems to be fascinated with bold casino heists and handsome, clever robbers played by George Clooney and Brad Pitt but the real-life stories that inspired such movies are even more captivating. History has seen multiple attempts to rob or scam casinos and while some of the perpetrators have been caught, others remain fugitives to this day. In
this article, we are looking at the biggest and most daring casino heists in history.
Crown Casino, Perth, Australia ($32 Million)
The most audacious casino scam in history took place at the Crown Casino in Perth, Australia, in 2013 when a duo tried to get away with a $32 million scheme. A casino employee and a foreign millionaire devised a plan to dupe the casino at the VIP card tables – the employee monitored the security cameras and was feeding information to the high-roller who, at some point, managed to win 8 hands against the dealer for the staggering sum of $32 million.
The constant luck of the player, however, alerted the floor staff and the plot was quickly discovered. Since the money was not actually stolen, the foreign punter was not charged but was banned from the casino.
The MIT Blackjack Team (Approx. $22 Million)
In the most famous case of card counting, a group of students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other colleges managed to beat casinos around the world, winning millions of dollars over a period of twenty years. Led by Harvard graduate Bill Kaplan, the team used casino sites search algorithm and card counting techniques to improve their odds and take advantage over the dealers at blackjack tables.
More than 70 people are believed to have taken part in these card counting partnerships – some were counters, others were players, but there were also spotters and people in other supporting roles. Since card counting is a technique rather than a scam, it is not illegal and the MIT Blackjack Team members were never taken to court. Their winnings over the years are estimated at around $22 million but the amount may be higher.
Circus Circus Casino, Las Vegas ($2.5 Million)
In 1993, an armored car was transferring $2.5 million from the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas to the bank but the money never made it to their original destination. Heather Tallchief, the then 21-year-old driver of the armored car, decided to drive away with the cash and then, she fled the country with her boyfriend Roberto Solis.
In 2005, after hiding in Europe for more than a decade, Tallchief returned to the US and surrendered to the police, blaming her ex-boyfriend for planning the robbery. According to her, Solis took the money shortly after they arrived in the Netherlands and he disappeared.
Tallchief pleaded guilty for the robbery and was sentenced to 5 years in prison but Solis is still on the run. Keep reading below for more casino robberies.
Ritz Casino, London, UK ($1.9 Million)
In 2004, a group of Eastern Europeans managed to win £1.2 million (US$1.9 million) on the roulette table, using a laser, a mobile phone, and a computer. Two Serbian men and a woman from Hungary visited the roulette table at the Ritz Casino in London in two consecutive instances. With the help of lasers on their phones, they managed to determine the speed and the orbit of the ball and calculated the pockets on the wheel where it would most likely land.
The high-tech technique proved to be successful, as the trio placed their bets accordingly and won £1.2 million in total. The scheme was quickly noticed and they were initially arrested, while their accounts were frozen. Later, a judge released them, saying that their actions were, in fact, legal and their winnings were returned to them. Of course, the trio was banned from UK casinos for life. There are more curious cases like the one in Salford casino, where burglars stole £60,000 in chips on Christmas Day. So far, no arrests have been made.
Bellagio, Las Vegas ($1.5 Million)
In December 2010, the luxurious casino resort Bellagio in Las Vegas became even more famous with the daring heist that took place. Biker Anthony Carleo arrived at the steps of the Bellagio with his motorcycle and walked in the casino with his helmet on and with a gun in his hand. The man headed straight for the craps table and took $1.5 million worth of chips. He managed to get away quickly with his loot before the security even knew what had happened.
However, Carleo could not just cash the chips in later or sell them as they had tracking devices on them. This is why he tried to sell them online and foolishly sent a photo of two $25,000 Bellagio chips to an undercover police officer who was pretending to be a buyer. The note on the photo was even signed “The Biker Bandit”, which gave this unusual heist the name. Anthony Carleo was, of course, caught and sentenced to serve 9 to 27 years in prison for robbing the Bellagio and bragging about it.