There may be many movies with loveable (and not-so-loveable) villains pulling off heists, but these tales aren’t all fiction. Whether it’s a bank heist or casino robbery, some of these highly entertaining crime adventures are influenced by true stories. We take a look at some of these true stories with five of the biggest casino heists in history. Why don’t you take a break from playing our exciting online slots in the UK and read about these astonishing stories?
5. Soboba Casino – £1.23 million ($1.5 million)
Status: Suspects arrested and jailed
In 2007, a surveillance technician for the Soboba Casino by the name of Rolando Ramos managed to steal approximately $1.5 million from the Soboba Casino. He used a fake gun and restrained several other employees, before grabbing large amounts of cash and making a run for it. Outside was his accomplice and suspected getaway driver, Eric Aguilera. Both men were identified and arrested for the crime. Aguilera’s girlfriend at the time, Sonya Boyorquez, drove Ramos to the casino and was also arrested for being an accessory to the robbery.
4. Bellagio Hotel and Casino – £1.23 million ($1.5 million)
Status: Suspect arrested and jailed
Anthony Michael Carleo stole $1.5 million from the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. He agreed to an interview with Rolling Stone six years after he almost got away with it.
In the article “Bellagio Bandit: How One Man Robbed Vegas’ Biggest Casino and Almost Got Away”, Carleo, the son of a judge, had managed to get away with about $19,000 in cash from a heist he’d pulled off at the Suncoast casino. He told the writer how he took a cocktail of drugs to give him the courage to pull off his even more daring robbery early in the morning in December 2010 at the Bellagio. Wearing dark overalls, gloves, and a motorcycle helmet with the visor down, he made his way inside and cleaned out one of the tables before making a run for it.
While he made a clean getaway, he didn’t leave with cash but casino chips, meaning he’d need to return to the Bellagio to get any return on his stolen stash. He managed to visit the Bellagio numerous times to gamble and cash out his chips, but his highest-value chips were harder to offload. He needed help to get rid of those chips.
Carleo started to reach out to people online hoping to find someone who might be interested. He began to communicate with someone, and when he shared a photo of his high-value chips via email, the individual who received the email reported him to the police. The police were able to track the email back to the residence that Carleo was at, which happened to be his father’s home. This information helped confirm the suspicions of an investigator that Carleo was the man he was looking for. But the investigator knew there was no room for mistakes — Carleo’s father was a sitting judge.
A sting operation was set up, leading to Carleo’s arrest and nine years of prison time at Nevada’s Lovelock Correctional Center.
3. Ritz Casino – £1.29 million ($1.58 million)
Status: Suspects freed
When is a heist not a heist? When the criminals are found not guilty of any crime. In 2004, two men and a woman were arrested for masterminding a scam that saw them walking away with over $1.5 million in winnings. The only problem was that they hadn’t broken any laws, which resulted in their release.
According to an article from The Guardian titled “The sting: did a gang really use a laser, phone and a computer to take the Ritz for £1.3m?”, the trio was believed to have used a phone with a laser scanner which was aimed at the roulette wheel when spun by the croupier. It then measured the speed of the roulette ball as it was released and once again at another point to calculate how quickly its speed was declining. This information was passed on to a computer which could then calculate in which sector (or range of numbers) the ball would land. The bettors only had a few seconds to place their bets once the wheel was spinning and the dealer closed all bets. However, they managed to pull it off, and over two nights walked away with almost $1.6 million in winnings.
While they may have been identified and quickly arrested, nine months later they were released and their winnings returned, as Scotland Yard didn’t have any evidence that they committed a crime.
2. Circus Circus Casino – £2.47 million (Almost $3 million)
Status: One suspect arrested after turning herself in
This real-life casino heist didn’t involve a robbery at the actual casino itself, but did involve the casino’s money and did take place on casino grounds. It was a remarkably simple plan, and that’s probably why it worked so well.
Heather Catherine Tallchief was 21 years old and was going through a rough patch in her life when she met Roberto Solis, an ex-con who had already done time for murder and was out on parole. The two hit it off, and Solis convinced Tallchief to get a job at a local security company as a driver. Despite her lack of experience as a driver and in the security industry, she managed to convince the company that her fake identity, resume and references were real. She was hired and was soon moving around large sums of money with the assistance of two armed guards.
One day when she was due to deliver millions of dollars to the Circus Circus Casino, she waited for her coworkers to head into the casino and then fled with the cash.
She and Solis used the money to disappear. They had gotten away with it.
But Tallchief became pregnant and wanted her child to have a normal life, so after years of being on the run, she turned herself in.
Robert Solis is still at large.
1. Crown Casino – £26.32 million ($32 million)
Status: Suspects never charged
You’d think that if someone had tried to con you out of millions of dollars, you’d likely want them arrested to send a message to others who might want to do the same. However, despite knowing that foul play was involved, the suspects in the Crown Casino scam were never arrested or charged.
James Manning was a wealthy New Zealand businessman who was invited to play at the Crown Casino in Australia by the casino’s VIP services manager. By the end of the night, he’d been kicked out after racking up $32 million in the high roller’s room playing blackjack. His unusually exceptional run of luck caught the attention of casino staff who threw him out before he could claim his winnings, meaning no money was technically stolen.
Upon further investigation, it was discovered that Manning’s luck wasn’t because of good fortune smiling down on him. The VIP services manager had compromised the security systems, allowing them to gain access to information that made winning easy.
Both individuals were banned from the casino, but the Crown Casino never pressed charges against the “lucky” businessman or his accomplice in the biggest casino robbery ever.
Try your luck at The Phone Casino
Now that you’re done reading about thrilling real-life heists, why don’t you check out the amazing gambling games we offer at The Phone Casino? At our mobile casino, you can enjoy a variety of experiences, including casino table games like blackjack and roulette, as well as more modern games like live dealer games and some of the best online slots in the UK.
Register at The Phone Casino to try your luck.