Casino robberies are most definitely less glamorous than what Hollywood portrays in movies like Ocean’s 11 and other famous blockbuster films. The culprits usually aren’t very sexy, the use of explosives is pretty slim and the lack of fancy technical gadgets is well, almost disappointing! However, the biggest casino heists in history are all characterized by a crazy culprit, a casino and sometimes inevitable arrest. Here’s our list:
Dealer Gone Rogue
The Casino: The Stardust
The Villain: Bill Brennan
The Stardust casino isn’t around anymore but the famous story of a sportsbook cashier who got a little greedy is still talked about today. Bill Brennan, on a sunny September afternoon, walked out of the casino after his shift with a bag containing over $500,000 in chips and cash. Brennan was never seen or heard from again and while he’s still on the FBI’s most wanted list, he’s slipped off the radar completely. Some say he had an accomplice who killed him for the goods. The truth, we’ll never know.
Love and Robbery
The Casino: Circus Circus
The Villains: Heather Tallchief and Roberto Solis
Many couples therapists will recommend taking up a hobby together to keep the spark alive in a long-term relationship. While some couples might take salsa lessons or take up bike riding, 21 year old Heather Tallchief and 43 year old Roberto Solis decided to take up casino robbing. The year was 1993 and they made their escape in an armored truck. How romantic. It get’s worse – they made off with $2.5 million and Solis skipped town, leaving Tallchief and her young son a mere $1,000. She stayed on the run until her arrest in 2005.
The Casino: Multiple Casinos Throughout California
The Villains: Two unnamed UC Santa Cruz students
In one of the most hi-tech heists of all time, in the 1970’s two physics students from the University of California, Santa Cruz,developed a small computer that fit into a shoe and interfered with the roulette wheels. The device would interfere with the wheel and read its movements so one player could wear the shoe while the other would have the information relayed on his own show and bet accordingly. Funny enough, the computer would short circuit, causing an electric shock and a burnt sock (also establishing a whole new level on how to cheat at casinos). The two were able to keep up the gag for a while (a few months) but were eventually caught and charged.
The Casino: Bellagio
The Villains: Jose Vigoa, Luis Suarez, and Oscar Sanchez
This casino heist went down in flames. Thankfully not literal flames but this dynamic trio managed to fall on their faces multiple times while trying to rob the Bellagio for over $160,000 (Danny Ocean-style). Vigoa was a known bank robber and managed to get his mug on camera without a mask. Rookie mistake. Then, Sanchez confessed to police and gave up Vigoa and Suarez. So much for team loyalty! Vigoa was sentenced to life in prison and Sanchez committed suicide in jail. Very sad story.
The Inside Job
The Casino: Soboba Casino
The Villains: Eric Alan Aguilera and Roland Luda Ramos
Ramos was an employee at the Soboba and managed to convince his friend Aguilera to rob $1.5 million from the casino’s vault. They didn’t try any fancy plans or employ the use of hi-tech gadgets. Ramos bound and gagged three workers and held another 7 at gunpoint. Aguilera drove the getaway car. Classy teamwork, eh? They didn’t make it for very long and were both apprehended within a short amount of time.
Fast and Furious
The Casino: Mandalay Bay
The Villains: Unknown
This event is one of the most mysterious “hush hush” heists. The robbery took place at 4 in the afternoon on March 11, 2005. Two men came up to the change booth and held up the cashier at gunpoint. The two made off with an undisclosed amount of money (neither the police nor casino spokespeople wouldn’t disclose that information). No one knows which entry and robbers came in from or what booth they robbed. One can only imagine that it was a nice chunk of change and the casino was probably quite embarrassed.
MIT Blackjack Team
The Casino: Various across the world
The Villains: Semyon Dukach, Mike Aponte and various students
This casino robbery (or should we say multiple robberies) have been made famous in many different books and movies. The “MIT Blackjack Team” ran one of the world’s most successful card-counting heists in history. These math wizards employed an advanced method for counting cards and raked in millions of dollars in winnings. Today, it’s unknown as to how many card counters are still out there and following in the footsteps of this notorious team.