casino heists history

Top Casino Heists in History

Who isn’t fascinated by casino heists. So ingenious and yet so harebrained, individuals scheming to take vast sums of money from casinos, which are more secure even than banks. Even the smallest level of cheating can get you caught with the most high-tech security systems in the world. Actually attempting to get away with thousands or even millions of dollars – no-one but the most audacious would attempt such a thing. Below are some of the most daring casino heists in history – many failures, a few successes, a great deal of money and stories stranger and more exciting than fiction.

Stardust, 1992

The casino heist of Stardust casino was one of the most surreptitious in history. William John Brennan, a sports book cashier at the casino, simply walked out of the door with an estimated $500 000 in cash and chips. Brennan disappeared after this – one could say that he quit and decided on $500 000 as his severance pay. This casino robbery is also one of the only truly successful ones on this list – Brennan is still nowhere to be found.

Circus Circus, 1993

Now this casino robbery is a real Bonny and Clyde story. Two lovebirds, Roberto Solis and Heather Tallchief, were on a tour of Las Vegas when they decided to rob the Circus Circus. This is also one of the biggest heists on this list – they made off with over $2.5 million in an armored truck. However, love turned sour when Solis decided to keep the spoils for himself, disappearing and leaving Tallchief with only $1000. She actually turned herself in 12 years later in 2005, saying her increasing guilt made her confess. Solis is still at large…

Bellagio, 1998

The robbery of Bellagio casino Las Vegas in 1998, is action movie material. Two armored men entered the casino, jumped over the cashier’s counter and whipped out their guns, while a third kept watch on the entrance. Together, they stole $160 000 worth of cash and chips. The men were Oscar Sanchez Cisneros, Jose Manual Vigoa, and Luis Suarez. The attempt may have seemed impressive, but the best robberies are not the most dramatic ones. Cisneros and Vigoa’s faces were caught by surveillance cameras. Suarez confessed, and betrayed his accomplices for a lighter sentences. Vigoa received life imprisonment, but Cisneros committed suicide while awaiting trial.

Treasure Island, 2000

This heist is actually more like a year-long three-act farce. Reginald Johnson held up the Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas three times in 2000.  Johnson’s first attempt was unsuccessful. On the second attempt, he managed to steal $30 000. On the third attempt, he left empty-handed after shooting at a security guard and a cashier. He was caught soon after and is now serving 130 years in prison, plus two life terms for attempted murder of a fellow inmate. Johnson was an incompetent criminal, with a habit of returning to past crime scenes. However, he was clearly a ruthless one – he laughed in court while watching footage of himself shooting the security guard.

Casino Royale, 2000

This casino heist is also movie material, featuring three wannabe James Bonds who teamed up to rob six casinos in London. One of them had a miniature camera up his sleeve to film cards he was dealt. He then sent these images to an accomplice in a van outside the casino, who reviewed the footage in slow motion and gave appropriate instructions. This was the first ever high-tech casino heist outside of fiction, and one of the few on this list involving cheating rather than armed casino robbery. Every one of the robberies was successful, and they ended up with the equivalent of $250 000. However, unlike James Bond, they were eventually caught and arrested.

Ritz Casino, 2004

Like the Casino Royale heist, the Ritz Casino heist of 2004 also involved high-tech cheating and also took place in London. Three cheaters used lasers installed in their cellphones to measure the speed at which roulette wheels rotated. This way, they accurately predicted the outcome of the spins and ended up with a staggering 1.3 million pounds. They were arrested, but shockingly the judge ruled that they had not committed a crime. He let them walk free and even keep the money!

Soboba Casino, 2007

The casino robbery of Soboba Casino, Las Vegas, in 2007 was not a big, showy casino heist. No shots were fired and no guests were injured. The robber was a low-level security technician who worked at the casino, and who had recently applied for bankruptcy. A crime of desperation by someone who had plenty of time to figure out how to work around the casino’s security system. After he had bound and gagged four other employees, he made off with more than $1 million in cash. He apparently modeled the crime on the film ‘Ocean’s 11’, and watched it about 50 times before the heist. However, Rolando Luda Ramos was no Danny Ocean – he was caught, and most of the money returned.

Crown Casino in PerthCrown Casino, 2013

The most recent casino robbery on this list was also by far the biggest. It was also the only southern hemisphere heist, occurring at the . This was another inside job, as a casino employee hacked the security cameras so that those pointed at the card tables could actually pick up the players’ hands.  He relayed this information to a man on the floor. The duo was caught after casino security figured out what was going on. By that time, the cheaters had amassed a whopping $32 million. However, because they were caught before transferring their winnings, the casino kept the money and the two got away scot free.

Advanced Crime = Advanced Security

It seems people will never stop attempting to rob casinos, no matter how advanced the security systems become. In fact, the security needs to be so advanced, because the cheaters and robbers are getting more and more advanced. However, the casinos remain one step ahead of the robbers. These stories can be exciting, but of course they are terrifying for the people actually at the casino. So if you want to avoid all this entirely, stick to casino online games. They may not be as glitzy and glamourous, but they are safe from the kind of crime we have been talking about.