Executive on probation for giving freebies to a high roller and making him gamble millions

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A former top executive of major Las Vegas casinos was given a year’s probation Wednesday after admitting he allowed an illegal bookmaker to gamble millions of dollars at the MGM Grand and pay off his debts in cash.

Scott Sibella pleaded guilty in January to violating federal anti-money laundering rules that required the casino to file suspicious transaction reports. His sentence was handed down in federal court by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee, who also ordered Sibella to pay a $9,500 fine. Gee took into account that Sibella, 61, took responsibility for his actions, cooperated with investigators and had no prior criminal history.

Sibella’s lawyers had asked the judge to consider probation. They submitted letters of testimony in support, including one from Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill, the elected chief of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

The MGM Grand and nearby Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas previously settled a related case arising from a Money laundering investigation by the US Department of Justice. The resorts agreed to pay a combined $7.45 million, submit to an external review and boost their anti-money laundering compliance programs.

In addition, Nevada casino regulators are considering revoking or suspending Sibella’s state gambling license and fining him up to $750,000. A complaint filed on April 30 by State Gaming Control Board investigators has not yet been considered by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

The bookmaker at the center of Sibella’s case, Wayne Nix, is a former minor league baseball player living in Newport Coast, California. He is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in April 2022 to operating an illegal gambling business and filing a false tax return.

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According to his plea agreement with the government, Sibella allowed Nix to gamble at MGM Grand and affiliated properties with illegal proceeds generated from the illegal gambling activities without notifying the casinos’ compliance department.

Sibella told federal investigators in January 2022 “that he ‘had heard Nix was in the booking business’ and that he ‘couldn’t figure out how he got all the money he gambled with.’”

“I didn’t want to know because of my position,” Sibella told investigators. “I’m staying out of it. If we know, we can’t let them gamble. “I didn’t ask, I didn’t want to know, probably because he didn’t do anything to defraud the casino.”

Sibella served as president and chief operating officer of the MGM Grand for eight years and then as president of Resorts World Las Vegas until 2023.

His conviction comes as the Justice Department undertakes an extensive investigation into illegal sports gambling operations in Southern California that launder money through Las Vegas casinos. The most striking case concerns Ippei MizuharaLos Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter. Federal prosecutors say Mizuhara transferred money he stole from the Japanese superstar in a scheme to pay off debts to illegal bookmakers.

Sibella held top positions at The Mirage and Treasure Island casinos on the Las Vegas Strip before becoming president of the 6,800-plus-room MGM Grand in 2011. He left the company in February 2019 and joined Resorts World Las Vegas before Malaysia-based Genting Group opened the $4.3 billion, 66-story resort in June 2021.

Sibella was fired by Resorts World in September 2023 after the company said he “violated company policies and terms of employment.”

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